Family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier confident Ian Bailey will be extradited

Situation has changed since extradition attempt failed in 2012, family’s solicitor says

Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud expressed satisfaction at the judgment of the Cour d'Assises in finding Ian Bailey guilty of his mother's murder. He also expressed confidence that France would succeed in having Mr Bailey extradited to serve the 25-year sentence imposed.

Speaking after the verdict was delivered by President of the Court, Judge Frederique Aline, Mr Baudey-Vignaud, a 38-year-old father of two young children, was in no doubt but it was the right decision. He praised the judgment for its comprehensive nature.

“The judgment is very clear – Ian Bailey killed my mother 22 years ago and the judges declare that Bailey has to go to jail for 25 years and so this was the first trial with a focus on the facts of the case and that is a first ever in either Ireland or France and they declare Ian Bailey the murderer,” he said.

“It is not a question, there is no longer any doubt – it is very emphatic so now we will attend to the next step.”

He said “one day for sure, Ian Bailey, who killed my mother, will go to jail”.

“I am no judge but the judge said that after 22 years of saying Ian Bailey was the killer, now we know and it’s been proven in law.”

He said it was very important the step was taken.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud said he was confident Mr Bailey would be extradited to France when the french authorities issue a new European Arrest Warrant for him as a convicted person. This would lead to another trial in France but one where Mr Bailey would be in the dock and would be defended.

“We will do a trial for sure and I am confident that he will be convicted again in a contested case of killing my mother,” said Mr Baudey-Vignaud who appealed to Ireland’s common humanity with France to recognise the French decision and extradite Mr Bailey.

Emotional scenes

The news of the verdict from Judge Frederique Aline and her colleagues, Judge Didier Forton and Judge Geraldine Detienne was met with a respectful silence. But the moment the judges rose from the bench, there were emotional scene among Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family.

Mr Baudey-Vignaud was embraced by his father, Ms Toscan du Plantier’s first husband, Pierre-Jean Baudey-Vignaud who has been with him throughout the four day trial.

Ms Toscan du Plantier's brother, Bertrand Bouniol, paid tribute to his parents, Marguerite and Georges for their tenacity in seeking justice for his sister. They had shown tremendous fortitude over the last quarter century and he was delighted for them to take another step along the road towards getting justice for his sister, he said.

“It is a very emotional occasion. My father is here but my mother is not. She came at the beginning of the week but it was too difficult for her, particularly today when we didn’t know how long the judges would be deliberating and how long it would take, but she is very emotional at the decision.”

Mr Bouniol Snr welcomed the outcome, but admitted he felt far from elated when he heard the judge deliver her conviction or “condemnation” of Mr Bailey.

“No –– it’s not enough because I want my daughter to be alive and with us here today as she should be and that is not possible,” said Mr Bouniol. It was nonetheless an important step to have Mr Bailey convicted in the quest to get justice for his daughter, he added.

Comprehensive judgment

The family’s lawyer, Alain Spilliaert, who addressed the court for the family along with is colleagues Laurent Pettiti and Marie Dose, strongly defended the decision of the French justice system to proceed with the trial of Mr Bailey in absentia.

“The judgment was very emphatic and comprehensive. It addressed all the issues that have been raised by Ian Bailey over the years and dealt with in a very thorough way. A trial in absentia according to European laws is a valid process and can take place when a person refuses to attend.”

“It’s a been long process after Mr Bailey made appeals to the Chambre d’Instruction and the Cour de Cassation, so it’s not as if he did not have an opportunity to make his case to French justice.”

Mr Spilliaert said the decision had been made to issue a new arrest warrant to the family and their legal advisors will wait and see how that is received in Ireland. He said he was confident of success as he believed the situation had changed since 2012 when an extradition attempt failed.

Mr Bailey, who is not legally represented at the Cours d’Assises, has repeatedly denied having any involvement in the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier or that he ever made any admissions in relation to her death.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times