French authorities investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork nearly 20 years ago have issued a new European arrest warrant for suspect Ian Bailey after obtaining an indictment order to put him on trial in France.
Judge Nathalie Turquey, who took over the French investigation earlier this year from Judge Patrick Gachon, delivered an indictment order on July 27th to start a criminal case against Mr Bailey in Paris on the ground of voluntary homicide.
The news that the French authorities are seeking to extradite Mr Bailey to stand trial has been warmly welcomed by Ms Toscan du Plantier’s son, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud who said it marked yet another stage in his family’s long quest for justice for his mother.
“It’s a kind of victory for us that the judge and the entire French justice system believes that this man has a case to answer – it still has some way to go but it’s important to us after 20 years that we can finally hope to get answers about what happened to my mother.”
The Department of Justice declined to comment on whether it had received an arrest warrant from France. Warrants are assessed by legal experts at the Chief State Solicitor’s office before being put to the
for endorsement and later, if approved, to the Garda for execution.
Up to 30 Irish citizens could face calls from the French authorities to go to Paris to give evidence if the trial of Mr Bailey for murder goes ahead.
Critically, however, the French authorities have no power to compel. Instead, they would depend on witnesses travelling voluntarily to confirm statements made to French investigators. The statements of deceased witnesses can also be used.
A French film producer, Ms Toscan du Plantier bought a holiday home near Schull in 1993 as a retreat from Paris.
Mr Bailey, a journalist, had moved to the area about two years earlier and met his partner Jules Thomas. He set up a home with her and her daughters at Liscaha, Schull.
Ms Toscan du Plantier’s badly beaten body was found in her night clothes near the laneway leading to her home by a neighbour on December 23rd, 1996.
No one has ever been charged in Ireland in connection with her death despite an extensive Garda investigation.
Mr Bailey (59) was twice arrested by gardaí and questioned. He has always denied any involvement in her death and also denied making any admissions that he killed her.
Mr Bailey declined to comment on the latest developments.
Describing any extradition request as "farcical", Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said the Supreme Court had robustly rejected a previous extradition attempt in 2012. Nothing had changed since then that would justify a different decision, he said.
The French case against Mr Bailey was based on “nothing more than a discredited and flawed Garda investigation” which the DPP had criticised and found to be insufficient to merit a charge here, he said.