French magistrates satisfied with progress on Toscan du Plantier inquiries


TWO INVESTIGATING magistrates appointed to investigate the murder of French woman Sophie Toscan du Plantier have expressed satisfaction with the progress of their inquiry after visiting west Cork in preparation for a hearing in France.

Judge Patrick Gachon and his colleague Judge Nathalie Dutartre arrived in Cork on Sunday night and spent three days carrying out inquiries regarding Toscan du Plantier’s murder before returning to Paris on Wednesday night. They were familiarising themselves with a number of locations associated with Toscan du Plantier’s murder.

The two judges, who were accompanied by a French policeman attached to the French embassy in London, visited Toscan du Plantier’s holiday home at Toormore near Schull and were shown where her body was found on the morning of December 23rd, 1996.

The Irish Times understands the visiting magistrates also met and spoke with a number of retired detectives who had worked on the original murder investigation to seek their assessment of several aspects of the case and assistance for further inquiries.

Judge Gachon and Judge Dutartre also used the visit to draw up a list of civilian witnesses who made relevant statements to gardaí whom they wish to invite to France to testify at their inquiry into the murder, possibly as early as July.

According to an informed source, the visiting magistrates, who are working from the original Garda file which was forwarded by the Department of Justice to the French authorities, are very satisfied with the progress their inquiry has made to date. “They were very pleased with the way their inquiries here went and feel that they made good progress,” said the source, adding that the judges, in addition to seeking to establish who killed Toscan du Plantier, are also looking at obstruction of justice issues.

Under French law, anyone who impedes a murder investigation can be prosecuted for obstructing justice and it is understood the French magistrates are looking closely at certain elements of the Garda file in this regard.

Meanwhile, lawyer Alain Spilliaert working for a group set up by Toscan du Plantier’s family and friends to campaign for justice for the French filmmaker, hailed the decision by the magistrates to travel to Ireland as “a historic step in the investigation”.