Gardaí investigating the murder of French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier were able to eliminate her former lover from their list of suspects for her death after he proved he was in Paris at the time of her death, The Irish Times has learned.
Artist Bruno Carbonnet was one of the original suspects identified by gardaí after Ms Toscan du Plantier unexpectedly ended their year-long relationship in 1993 and gardaí travelled to France to interview him in January 1997 - just weeks after Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder in Co Cork in December 1996.
Gardaí eliminated Mr Carbonnet from their list of suspects after French police established through a receipt which he signed for the installation of a telephone at his apartment that he was in Paris on December 23rd, 1996, the day Ms Toscan du Plantier was murdered.
Details of the alibi evidence offered by Mr Carbonnet are contained in the French file served on English journalist, Ian Bailey who has been charged in France with the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Toormore outside Schull in December 1996.
Lawyers for Mr Bailey lodged an appeal last March against a decision by French magistrate, judge Nathalie Turquey to have him indicted for the voluntary homicide.
The appeal is due to open on Thursday before the appeal court, the Chambre de L’Instruction in Paris.
Mr Bailey, who is not travelling to France for the appeal, confirmed to The Irish Times that he had been in touch with his French lawyer Dominique Tricaud and they plan to "mount a valiant legal challenge" to the decision by the French authorities to indict him for the killing.
Meanwhile, lawyer Alain Spilliaert, who represents Ms Toscan du Plantier's parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son Pierre- Louis Baudey-Vignaud, said the indictment of voluntary homicide against Mr Bailey followed an extensive investigation by the French authorities.
Investigating magistrate judge Patrick Gachon travelled to Ireland twice including to the scene of Ms Toscan du Plantier's killing while his successor judge Nathalie Turquey completed the file before it was sent to the criminal prosecutor for Paris, Francois Molins who approved the indictment.
“Judge Turquey will not be present at the appeal but the prosecution case will be made to the three professional judges by the Procureur- General, Mr Tricaud will present the case on behalf of his client and we will make pleadings on behalf of the family and it should all be done in the afternoon.
“The three judges will reserve their judgement and we should have a decision within three to four weeks but the family are confident that judge Turquey and her predecessor, judge Patrick Gachon have prepared a strong case and the case will ultimately go to trial.”
If the French authorities are successful in defeating Mr Bailey's appeal against his indictment, then it is still open to Mr Bailey to make a further appeal but only on a point of law, not of fact or evidence, to a higher court, the French equivalent of the Irish Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation, he said.
However, Mr Spilliaert said he was confident French authorities would succeed at the appeal stage at the Chambre de ‘L’Instruction and he expected that the matter would come to trial before the criminal Cours d’Assise in Paris sometime in the spring of 2018.
Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Schull in December 1996, but has denied any involvement in her killing or ever making any admissions in relation to her death. He has never been charged in Ireland in connection with the death.