Minister denies bid to extradite Ian Bailey was ‘abuse of process’

Charlie Flanagan ‘obliged’ by law to apply for extradition order on foot of European warrant

Ian Bailey: French tribunal likely to go ahead in his absence. Photograph: Collins Courts

Ian Bailey: French tribunal likely to go ahead in his absence. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan has taken issue with a High Court judge who accused the Department of Justice yesterday of an “abuse of process” in its bid to have Ian Bailey extradited to France.

In turning down the application to extradite Mr Bailey to France to face trial for the voluntary homicide of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, Mr Justice Tony Hunt described the application to have Mr Bailey extradited an “abuse of process” given the Supreme Court had already ruled on a similar application in 2012.

A spokesman for Mr Flanagan said that while the Minister was not in a position to comment on individual cases, he was obliged under legislation to apply to the High Court for the order on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

“Under section 13(1) of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, the Minister as central authority is obliged to make an application to the High Court for endorsement of a warrant for its execution,” he said.

The request to have Mr Bailey extradited came by way of a European Arrest Warrant issued last August in relation to the murder of Ms du Plantier in Cork in December 1996.

The Act says the Minister shall, as soon as he receives the warrant, cause an application to be made to the High Court for its endorsement.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Hunt noted that the Supreme Court had ruled in 2012 on a French extradition request, and that it was now 21 years since Ms du Plantier was killed. He also noted that the Director of Public Prosecutions had long ago decided there was no basis for charges against Mr Bailey. The judge said he believed he was entitled to regard the “highly unusual state of affairs” as contributing to “a finding of abuse of process”.

French ‘show trial’

Last night a French lawyer acting for Ms du Plantier’s family said a French trial of Mr Bailey, conducted in his absence, might begin in 2018.

Following the High Court ruling Mr Bailey’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said he expected “the next stage in this ongoing nightmare for Mr Bailey” will be a “show trial” in France involving “totally discredited evidence”.

Mr Bailey (60) of The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, has denied any involvement in the death of Ms du Plantier, and has tried unsuccessfully to sue the State for what he claimed was a Garda effort to frame him.

Mr Buttimer said the application to the courts to endorse the extradition warrant showed “disrespect” for the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling and that the then minister, Frances Fitzgerald, “should have exercised her discretion to refuse the application” on the grounds of the Supreme Court ruling.

‘Not a surprise’

Laurent Pettiti, a lawyer working with Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family in Paris, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the High Court’s decision.

“Legally it’s not a surprise, given that the decision rests on the previous court decision not to grant an order for Mr Bailey’s surrender,” Mr Pettiti said.

“If the decision of the [French] judge to charge Mr Bailey is confirmed and the trial goes ahead, it will happen in Mr Bailey’s absence.”

Mr Bailey is appealing the decision of that judge, Nathalie Turquey, to send him to trial for voluntary homicide in the Parisian court. If the trial goes ahead, Mr Pettiti said, it will most likely take place in 2018, although it could be pushed back to 2019 due to a backlog of terrorism cases.

Mr Pettiti is a lawyer for Association for the Truth About the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, which was set up almost a decade ago to help Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, the parents of Ms du Plantier.