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Paris team to interview witnesses in Sophie caseSLAIN: Sophie du Plantier

A team of French police officers and forensic specialists, who have flown to Ireland to carry out their own investigation into the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, were expected to start conducting witness interviews this evening.

The three Paris-based detectives are due to interview some 31 witnesses as part of their investigation.

These witnesses are regarded as vital to the French efforts to solve the murder of the French film producer. It is believed the team could be in Ireland for the next three weeks.







Priority

The French forensic scientists are expected to examine around 200 exhibits, which have already been gathered by gardai and carry out tests under the monitoring of members of the garda technical bureau.

The outcome of the two-pronged exercise will be crucial to further developments in the inquiries presided over by French magistrate, Judge Patrick Gachon.

After sorting out the witnesses in order of priority, the officers, who arrived at Cork Airport yesterday afternoon, will meet gardai in Bandon today at a conference to agree on a programme for the week.

Ms du Plantier body was discovered at the foot of a laneway leading to her holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork on December 23, 1996, hours before she was due to fly back to France for Christmas.

Ian Bailey, a self-confessed suspect, was arrested twice as part of a garda investigation.

He is currently appealing a High Court extradition order to the Supreme Court, to face questioning about the death, after the French authorities issued a European arrest warrant for him in 2010.

The French team is hoping to gain access to copies of Mr Bailey's personal diaries.

hnews@herald.ie