A group set up to campaign for justice for the family of murdered Frenchwoman Sophie Toscan du Plantier has warned that it will take legal action at European Union level if Ireland decides to end co-operation with a French investigation into the killing.
Jean Pierre Gazeau, Ms Toscan du Plantier's uncle and president of the Association for the Truth About the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier said he hoped that Ireland would continue to offer co-operation to a French investigation into his niece's muder in West Cork in 1996.
Mr Gazeau said that he had no difficulty if the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald deferred any decision on providing the assistance to the French pending the Commission of Inquiry by former Supreme Court Judge Nial Fennelly into garda behaviour in the case.
However, if the Irish authorities decided to completely terminate co-operation with the French inquiry, then the group would lobby the French authorities to take legal action against Ireland at European Union level for its failure to honour its commitments under international treaties.
Frank Buttimer, solicitor for Ian Bailey who was twice arrested for questioning about the killing and has always protested his innocence of any involvement in Ms Toscan du Plantier's death, has warned he will take legal action if Ireland continues to provide assistance to the French investigation.
Mr Buttimer said that the French investigation is based on a flawed garda investigation into the killing and as a result the Irish authorities should end its assistance to the French and has indicated that he is willing to take a High Court action to secure the termination of such assistance.
But at press conference in Cork last evening, the group's vice president, Jean Antoine Bloc Daudet stressed that the French investigation was independent of the Irish inquiry into the killing and any difficulties in the garda investigation would not impact on the French inquiry.
Mr Bloc Daudet explained that French magistrate Judge Patrick Gachon was legally obliged to base his investigation on statements and testimonies which he had obtained as part of his own investigation and could not rely on statements made to the gardai.
A team of French investigators had come to Ireland in 2011 and took statements from around 30 witnesses who had made these statements voluntarily, without any coercion or manipulation, and the French file would be based solely on these statements and interviews, he said.
“On a legal level Judge Gachon has to build a proper investigation file into Sophie’s murder independently of the garda file and that is what he is doing - he has to base his conclusions on his own investigations carried out by a specialist team of French investigators,” he said.
Mr Gazeau apologised for the fact Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol were unable to attend the press conference due to Ms Bouniol’s poor health but he did read a message from her in which she expressed her frustration at the failure to find her daughter’s killer.
“We, the family, have been suffering a double penalty for almost 18 years - Sophie was murdered and we, the plaintiffs, are mute in Ireland, we have no voice - we never had the opportunity to make our case (under the Irish justice system),” she said.
“Now, we are the victims of serious malfunctions in the Irish police and judicial systems but myself, as Sophie’s mother, I cannot wait any longer - my health problems are related to how long it has take us to reach this point today - the same point we were at the very start - enough is enough.”