Ian Bailey cannot be extradited to France in connection with Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder – High Court
Ian Bailey Photo: DAMIEN EAGERS/AFP via Getty Images
October 12 2020 02:51 PM
Former journalist Ian Bailey cannot be extradited to France in connection with the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the High Court has ruled.
The Englishman was sentenced to 25 years by a Paris court last year, following a trial he did not attend.
Mr Justice Paul Burns ruled in a 61-page judgment that a recent change in the law in Ireland on extraterritorial jurisdiction to include persons ordinarily resident in Ireland did not create a situation where Ireland and France had reciprocal laws that would allow Mr Bailey’s extradition.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder…Undated handout photo of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was murdered in Ireland 14 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday April 24, 2010. Ian Bailey will appear at the High Court in Dublin today in connection with the death in west Cork of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39. See PA story IRISH France. Photo credit should read: Handout/PA Wire …A
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In line with a previous Supreme Court ruling, he said section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 states that a person shall not be surrendered under this Act if the offence specified in the warrant was committed in a place other than the issuing State precluded his surrender.
The judge also said he was bound by another High Court ruling that a previous extradition request was an abuse of process. He said it had been open to the State to appeal that ruling, but it hadn’t.
Mr Justice Burns said Mr Bailey had an accrued or vested right to not be surrendered on the basis of previous court decisions, even if there were subsequent changes to the law.
It was the third time French authorities sought Mr Bailey’s extradition in connection with her death.
Ms du Plantier (39) was beaten to death on the laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore, outside Schull in west Cork on December 23, 1996, after she had apparently tried to flee from an intruder.
Manchester-born Bailey (63), who has lived in Ireland since 1991, has vehemently protested his innocence of the mother-of-one’s murder.
He has maintained that sinister attempts were made to frame him.
Mr Bailey, who reported on her death for a number of newspapers, was twice arrested and questioned by gardaí, in 1997 and 1998. He was released without charge on both occasions.
In 2001, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled evidence gathered by gardaí did not support the bringing of a prosecution.
However, French authorities launched a Paris-based inquiry into the killing in 2007 under laws which allow for the investigation of the murder of French nationals on foreign soil.
This followed a high-profile campaign by Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family.
The magistrate-led investigation resulted in a trial in Paris in May of last year, which Mr Bailey did not attend.
He was convicted in absentia after a four-day hearing by a panel of three judges and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Mr Bailey maintained it was “a show trial” based on material already discredited in Ireland. The evidence used was largely the same as that which led to the DPP’s determination not to prosecute in 2001.
Following an earlier extradition application, the Supreme Court found that although French law allows for prosecutions in relation to the murder of French nationals abroad there was no similar law in Ireland.
As a result of this, Mr Bailey could not be extradited, it found.
In the hearing of the latest extradition request, Mr Bailey’s lawyers argued it was an “abuse of process”
His counsel, Ronan Munro SC, said his client has an “ironclad right” not to be surrendered to France and it had not been threatened in any way by subsequent developments in law.
He said section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 states that a person shall not be surrendered under this Act if the offence specified in the warrant was committed in a place other than the issuing State and the offence does not, by virtue of having been committed in a place other than the State, constitute an offence under the law of the State.
Counsel for the State, Robert Barron SC, had argued the court had a “prima facie” obligation to surrender Mr Bailey and there was a strong public interest in surrendering him.
French authorities previously sought the surrender of Mr Bailey in 2010 but this application was refused by the Supreme Court in 2012, which held that section 44 prohibited his surrender.
A second French extradition request was dismissed as an “abuse of process” by the High Court in July 2017.