Family express disappointment over latest delay in French investigation of Toscan du Plantier killing
Garda sources say visit by French investigators unlikely to take place this side of Christmas
Sophie Toscan du Plantier: murdered in 1996
A lawyer for the family of murdered French woman
Alain Spilliaert said Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, had hoped French investigators would be able to come to Ireland before Christmas to interview about 30 witnesses in relation to their daughter’s murder in 1996.
“We were hoping that the interviewing of witnesses in Ireland by the French investigators would be completed by the end of the year so that the investigating magistrate, Judge Patrick Gachon, could finish his work early next year but clearly that won’t happen now.
“It is disappointing for us but it is simply a calendar problem and hopefully it can be resolved and the investigators can come in January and make good progress on the case to allow the judge prepare his report for the chambre d’accusation as soon as possible,” he said.
It is understood gardaí contacted the French investigators to inform them that many of the witnesses would be available to meet the French team in the first two weeks of December but so far no response has been received from the French.
Garda sources now say the visit is unlikely to take place this side of Christmas with the visit more likely to take place in January or February when gardaí will accompany the French team as they seek to meet and interview 30 witnesses.
The Department of Justice issued a statement saying it could “confirm that Irish and French investigators are liaising with each other in respect of the matter”.
Meanwhile, gardaí have dismissed reports of a rift with Judge Gachon after it was suggested they had refused the French judge access to what was described as “new and unexpected material” in a recent High Court application by former journalist Ian Bailey.
Mr Bailey is suing the Garda for wrongful arrest during the murder investigation and in the course of a discovery application last month, counsel for the State, Paul O’Higgins, said “new and unexpected material” stored in an electronic format had come to light.
But yesterday an informed source told The Irish Times that gardaí had received no request from Judge Gachon for the new material to date and said that if such a request was made, then it would be considered as were similar requests in the past.
“Whatever we can legally give to Judge Gachon we will give, as we will to Mr Bailey, but so far we’ve received no mutual assistance request from the French for this material so we’re not really sure where these reports of us being at odds with the French are coming from,” he said.
Mr Bailey (56) was twice arrested for questioning about the death of Ms
Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home at Toormore near Schull in west Cork but was released without charge on each occasion and has always denied any involvement in her death.
Mr Bailey is due to meet with members of the Oireachtas this Thursday following an invitation to Leinster House from Independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace who have expressed concern about what they describe as “a discredited Garda investigation” of the murder.