Toscan du Plantier investigators will return to Ireland to question witnesses
A FRENCH magistrate investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork nearly 16 years ago is to send a team of investigators back to Ireland to interview a further 10 witnesses before finalising his file on the case.
Interior security attache at the French embassy in London, Eric Battesti, told The Irish Times that Judge Patrick Gachon has instructed French police officers to return to west Cork to carry out further interviews regarding the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier.
Three officers from L’office central pour la répression des violences aux personnes were among a French team that visited west Cork in October 2011 and interviewed about 30 people who had previously made statements to gardaí investigating the killing.
According to Mr Battesti, Judge Gachon wants the French police to re-interview a number of those already interviewed to clarify some points in their existing statements as well as to ask them further supplementary questions arising from examining and cross-checking statements.
Judge Gachon also wants the French team to interview a number of additional witnesses – some of whom were either unwilling or unavailable last year but have since agreed to be interviewed – and others who were not on the original French list of people to be interviewed. It is understood that all the witnesses whom the French investigators are seeking to interview have already made statements to the original Garda investigation into the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier’s whose battered body was found near her holiday home outside Schull in December 1996.
It is understood that Judge Gachon is hoping that the French investigators will be able to come to Ireland and conduct the interviews within the next two months as he wishes to complete his file before the end of the year.
News that the French investigation team is to return comes as lawyers for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, confirmed that they have lodged a complaint against Ireland with the European Commission.
The complaint centres on the court’s decision not to extradite former journalist Ian Bailey in connection with the film-maker’s death. The lawyers argue that the Supreme Court interpretation of the Irish legislation governing the European arrest warrant (EAW) is in breach of EU treaties and hope the commission in Brussels will refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the matter had been dealt with conclusively by the Supreme Court which is independent in the exercise of its function and the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, was not open to comment on a particular case.