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The latest dramatic chapter in the 23-year-old Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation will be written today as the High Court rules on whether Ian Bailey should be extradited to France.
It represents the third time the French authorities have attempted to have Manchester-born Bailey extradited to Paris over the killing of the French mother of one on December 23, 1996.
Ms du Plantier (39) was found beaten to death on the laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore, outside Schull in west Cork, after she had apparently tried to flee from an intruder.
The film executive was scheduled to fly back to France for Christmas just a few hours after her body was found on the roadside by a neighbour.
Mr Bailey (63) – who has lived in Ireland since 1991 – has vehemently protested his innocence and maintained that sinister attempts were made to frame him for the brutal murder. He claimed he has been “hunted” and “bonfired” since 1996 over the matter despite insisting he was an innocent man.
Mr Bailey, who also works as a wood turner and at a farmer’s market stall, said his life in west Cork had been made “a nightmare” by being wrongly connected with the case.about:blankhttps://acdn.adnxs.com/dmp/async_usersync.html
Further, he said he was subjected to “a show trial” in France which amounted to “a mockery of justice” based on material already discredited in Ireland.
In 2001, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled that Mr Bailey, who was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning over the matter but released without charge on both occasions in 1997 and 1998, had no case to answer in Ireland.
In response, the French launched a Paris-based investigation into the killing in 2007 under a French magistrate.
That eventually recommended a prosecution which was subsequently upheld by various French courts – a process allowed under Napoleonic Law, even though the crime occurred in Ireland.
In May 2019, Mr Bailey was tried, in absentia, and convicted after a four-day hearing by a panel of three Paris judges. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Mr Bailey was also ordered by the Paris court to pay over €225,000 in compensation to Ms du Plantier’s family and the French state.
He rejected the French prosecution as “farcical” and “a show trial”, saying that he was convicted before the trial even opened.
He confirmed he also had “absolutely no intention” of paying anything on foot of the French court order.
The current extradition proceedings – the third taken by the French since 2010 – were lodged on foot of that conviction, with the French intent on holding a fresh trial if Mr Bailey is ordered by the High Court to Paris.
Last July, the High Court heard detailed submissions from Mr Bailey, his legal team under Ronan Munro SC, and Robert Barron SC, for the Minister for Justice, on the extradition application by the French.
Mr Barron submitted there was a “prima facie” obligation to ratify the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and surrender Mr Bailey to the French authorities.
He also submitted that the du Plantier family feel they have not achieved justice.
Mr Bailey’s legal team said the current proceedings ran totally counter to previous Supreme Court and High Court rulings.
Further, Mr Bailey said that, since the first French EAW was issued in 2010, he had been effectively trapped in Ireland and unable to travel abroad for fear of arrest.