A French campaign group seeking justice for murdered film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier has criticised the Irish authorities for failing to respond to a request by a French magistrate seeking permission to send a team of French policemen to Ireland.
The Association for the Truth About the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier said it "strongly condemns" the delay by the Irish authorities in responding to a request by French magistrate, Judge Patrick Gachon to allow French investigators return to Ireland.
In a statement issued by association president Jean Pierre Gazeau, the group noted that the judge is still awaiting an official response from the Irish authorities to his request made in early March to allow French investigators return to Ireland.
A French team already visited Ireland in October 2011 and were accompanied by a team of Irish detectives familiar with the case.
However, the judge wants his team to return to Ireland to meet about 30 witnesses. These include some witnesses whom they wish to re-interview to clarify statements they made when first interviewed by the French in 2011, as well as others that they did not interview in 2011.
However, Garda sources have told The Irish Times a team of gardai familiar with the case, who met with the French team in 2011 and liaised with the witnesses, have been busy since May sorting through some 20,000 documents being sought by former journalist, Ian Bailey.
Mr Bailey obtained an order from Mr Justice John Hedigan in the High Court in May for discovery of Garda documents for a civil action he is taking against the state for wrongful arrest and gardai were given an extension until the end of September to provide the documents.
Mr Bailey was arrested in both February 1997 and January 1998 for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Toormore outside Schull in December 1996 but he has always denied any involvement in the death.
However, ASSOPH says it cannot understand how Mr Bailey’s seeking of documents could interfere with the French investigation process and said the Irish authorities should “respect the application of the French authorities without delay”.
"ASSOPH denounces and condemns the systematic Irish opposition which, after the refusal to execute the EAW (European Arrest Warrant issued by France for Mr Bailey) in March 2012 tends to delay once more and prevents the presentation of the suspect to the court."
“This opposition reflects a rejection of the judicial system of France. It is contrary to the judicial co-operation advocated by the European authorities,” said ASSOPH in its strongly worded statement.
Contacted about ASSOPH’s criticisms of the Irish authorities’ delay in responding to the French request, the Department of Justice declined to comment on the matter. “It is not the practice to comment on international requests for assistance in criminal matters,” said the department.