The Minister for Justice is insulting the Irish courts by seeking to go around a Supreme Court “bar” on Ian Bailey’s extradition to France in relation to the death of Sophie Tuscan du Plantier, according to his lawyers.
Mr Bailey (60), of The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, Co Cork, denies any involvement in the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.
French authorities previously sought the surrender of Mr Bailey in 2010 but this application was refused by the Supreme Court in 2012. A second extradition request was transmitted to Ireland in recent months, seeking the surrender of Mr Bailey for alleged voluntary homicide.
French authorities have previously prosecuted people for crimes committed against French citizens outside the country. Mr Bailey, who claims gardaí tried to frame him for the killing, could be tried in France in his absence.
Opposing surrender on Wednesday, counsel for Mr Bailey, Garrett Simons SC, said his client had a “very straightforward and obvious case”.
Mr Simons said there was “no way around” the Supreme Court decision in 2012 which identified an “absolute jurisdictional bar” to Mr Bailey’s extradition.
He said section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, which implemented the European Framework Decision on extradition between member states, was determined by the Supreme Court as an “absolute bar” to Mr Bailey’s surrender and that continued to apply.
Mr Simons said this section of the act, the facts of the case and the offence as alleged had not changed since.
‘Abuse of process’
It was an “abuse of process” for the Minister, who has litigated an issue all the way to the Supreme Court, to seek to litigate the issue again, Mr Simons submitted, adding that it was in the public interest that there be finality to the litigation.
He said the Minister was insulting the Irish courts, was not respecting the sovereignty of the Irish courts and was misunderstanding European law.
It was “extraordinary” that the Minister does not say the Supreme Court was wrong, Mr Simons said. The most the Minister could say was that Section 44 was “unclear” but that could not provide a basis for setting aside a Supreme Court judgment.
Mr Simons said the public interest in facilitating extradition requests was to avoid the creation of “safe havens” but Mr Bailey had lived in Ireland for 25 years and was always at hazard of being prosecuted.
The alleged offence took place in the State and Mr Bailey would have been prosecuted here “had there been any evidence”.
Mr Simons said there was a point when trust and confidence between nations in relation to extradition requests “breaks down”.
It was never the intention of the European extradition framework for countries to mount prosecutions where one’s own independent prosecutor has characterised the investigation as thoroughly flawed and prejudicial or to rely on evidence “condemned” by those authorities, Mr Simons said. That was not trust and confidence and it was an abuse of process to do it, he said.
Counsel for the Minister for Justice, Robert Barron SC, said there were no grounds for criticism of the Minister.
Mr Barron said extradition was a process between judicial authorities and the Minister’s role was to produce warrants to the courts for endorsement. Once the warrant is received it must be presented to the court for endorsement.
He said the Minister had no power to refuse a warrant and it had never happened, as far as he knew, before. Every European Arrest Warrant has been presented to the court for endorsement and problems with warrants were raised by lawyers for the Minister in court.
Mr Barron will continue making submissions before Mr Justice Tony Hunt in the High Court on Thursday.