French police to interview Toscan du Plantier case witnesses

Officers will travel to Cork as part of investigation into murder near Schull in 1996

Sopie Toscan du Plantier: She was attacked and bludgeoned to death at her holiday home in Toormore, Co Cork, in the early hours of December 23rd, 1996.

Sopie Toscan du Plantier: She was attacked and bludgeoned to death at her holiday home in Toormore, Co Cork, in the early hours of December 23rd, 1996.

 

A team of French police officers is to arrive in Cork on Monday to interview and reinterview a number of witnesses as part of a French investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The three officers are expected to spend all of next week taking statements from 15-20 witnesses who made statements to gardaí as part of the original investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

It is understood the team has been instructed by the investigating French magistrate, Patrick Gachon, to interview both civilian witnesses and retired gardaí who were involved in the original inquiry.

The visit will be the second by the French investigation team and follows a visit by five police officers, including forensic specialists, in October 2011, when they met and interviewed about 30 witnesses in the case.

 

Scene of the murder

In June 2009, the judge, accompanied by another French magistrate, Nathalie Dutartre, visited the scene of the murder in west Cork and met with senior gardaí leading the Irish investigation.

A mother of one, Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) had been on a visit to her holiday home at Dreenane, in Toormore, near Schull, when she was attacked and bludgeoned to death in the early hours of December 23rd, 1996.

 

Released without charge

English journalist Ian Bailey (58) was twice arrested for questioning about Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder but was released without charge on each occasion. No one has ever been charged with the killing of the French film producer.

 

The family of Ms Toscan du Plantier had hoped the second visit by the French investigation team would take place in 2014, but the Department of Justice suspended a decision on providing further assistance to the French investigation.

 

Legal action

Mr Bailey’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer, confirmed that he had written to the Department of Justice, in April 2014, threatening legal action on behalf of his client if the department did not suspend cooperation with the French investigation, sought under the Mutual Assistance Act 2000.

 

Contacted yesterday, Mr Buttimer said it was confirmed by the Department of Justice to him in correspondence on May 29th, 2014, that cooperation with the French had been suspended, and he had received no notification since then that the suspension had been lifted.