Toscan du Plantier family lawyer says France trial will go ahead

Alain Spilliaert says extradition decision will not affect case in France

 

A lawyer representing the family of murdered French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier has said that the State’s decision not to appeal a High Court ruling refusing the extradition of Ian Bailey to France will have no impact on French plans to try Mr Bailey in absentia.

Alain Spilliaert, who represents Ms Toscan du Plantier’s elderly parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son, Pierre Louise Baudey-Vignaud, said that he was not surprised by the decision not to appeal last month to extradite Mr Bailey to France.

Mr Spilliaert explained he had travelled to Ireland in 2012 to consult with the family’s Irish lawyer, James MacGuill, and senior counsel Remy Farrell who had advised him that the 2012 Supreme Court ruling would be a bar to any extradition and he had advised clients of that many years ago.

“We were not surprised by Judge Hunt’s decision and the State’s decision to accept it but my feeling is that this should not change anything in terms of what will happen in France, we still have a schedule and that is that a date will be fixed in September to try Ian Bailey in absentia.”

Mr Spilliaert said that he drew some encouragement from Mr Justice Hunt’s ruling in that he clearly highlighted in his judgement that the State had failed to address issues raised by the Supreme Court regarding Section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003.

Four of the five judges of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell dissenting, upheld Mr Bailey’s argument in his appeal that section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act, 2003, prohibits extradition in circumstances where the alleged offence was committed outside French territory.

They ruled there was no reciprocity as there was no provision on the Irish statute to prosecute anyone for a murder outside of Ireland save where the offence is committed by an Irish citizen, unlike in French law where a person can be prosecuted when the victim is French.

Mr Spilliaert noted that Mr Justice Hunt had highlighted in his judgement that “the Minister (for Justice) has taken no steps since the Supreme Court decision refusing the surrender of Mr Bailey to effect any amendment to the statutory provision relevant to this case”.

This was “notwithstanding the dissatisfaction expressed in the course of the hearing as to the correctness of the conclusion of the majority of the Supreme Court on the interpretation of Section 44 of the Act,” said Mr Justice Hunt.

“There has been ample opportunity to amend the section in question if it is thought that the Supreme Court made an error or that the law ought to be otherwise than as expressed by that Court and to ensure that any proposed alternative to Section 44 is otherwise consistent with the Constitution and any relevant EU law,” added the judge.

Mr Spilliaert said Mr Justice Hunt had highlighted the failure of the State to address the loophole in Irish law, resulting from the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant and he urged the government to move to accordingly amend the Irish legislation.

“In the view of Judge Hunt, the minister should have changed this section - which we requested five years ago with James MacGuill and Remy Farrell - to push the parliament to introduce a new act to put this in order so it is good that Judge Hunt has highlighted this again in his judgement,” he said.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Schull in December 1996 but he has denied any involvement in her killing and has denied ever making any admissions in relation to her death.