French police will quiz 30 here over du Plantier killing
FRENCH investigators will travel to Ireland next month to seek to quiz 30 witnesses over the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Two senior gardai have been appointed to liaise with a French team gathering evidence into the murder of French film producer.
The 39-year-old mother-of-one was beaten to death outside her holiday home near Schull, Co Cork, in December 1996.
An investigating French magistrate has asked a team of French police officers and criminal forensic scientists to travel to west Cork to meet witnesses who made statements to gardai investigating the murder.
Gardai have already approached the 30-plus witnesses whom the French investigators wish to interview and it is understood the majority are willing to speak with the French team. The investigators cannot compel Irish or British citizens to speak to them, however.
It is understood the French investigators will be guided by gardai as to where witnesses will be interviewed, and that each investigator will be accompanied by a garda and an interpreter when taking statements from individual witnesses.
Chief Supt Tom Hayes and Det Insp Joe Moore, who are both based in Bandon but who were not involved in the original garda investigation into the murder, have been appointed to liaise with the French team.
The French team is expected to spend seven days working here, mainly in west Cork, though members of the team may travel elsewhere in the country to take statements from witnesses who may have left the area in the 15 years since the French woman was murdered.
Despite a massive garda investigation, during which officers arrested English journalist Ian Bailey (54) in both February 1997 and January 1998 for questioning about the killing, nobody has ever been charged.
Mr Bailey is currently fighting a High Court decision to allow his extradition to France on a European Arrest Warrant to face charges there in relation to the high profile killing.
The French courts claim unlimited extraterritorial jurisdiction in cases involving the homicide of a French citizen.
In their appeal against the High Court decision, Mr Bailey's lawyers said that it was inconsistent with the arrest warrant that Bailey could be tried in France for a homicide that occurred here.
Mr Bailey, who earlier this summer lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court over the extradition, has always denied any involvement in Ms Toscan du Plantier's death.
About half of the witnesses to whom the French team wishes to speak have already given evidence on behalf of eight newspaper titles sued in a libel action in 2003 by Mr Bailey over reports that, he said, libelled him by linking him to the killing.