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Crime

Suspect in murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier 1996 murder fights extradition to France

Former British journalist Ian Bailey, convicted of killing a French woman in Ireland in 1996, appeared at Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice on Wednesday to fight his extradition to France to serve a 25-year murder sentence.
Former British journalist Ian Bailey, convicted of killing a French woman in Ireland in 1996, appeared at Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice on Wednesday to fight his extradition to France to serve a 25-year murder sentence. © AFP /Paul Faith
3 min

A British man convicted of killing a French woman in Ireland in 1996 appeared in court on Wednesday to fight his extradition to France to serve a 25-year murder sentence.

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Ian Bailey, now 63, appeared at Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice to resist surrender to France, which last year convicted him in absentia of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Plantier, the 39-year old wife of French film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was found dead outside her isolated holiday home near the seaside village of Schull in County Cork on December 23, 1996.

Bailey, who has denied any involvement in the killing, did not speak as he watched proceedings from the back of the courtroom early Wednesday, wearing a navy suit and tie and a green neck scarf.

His lawyer Ronan Munro insisted that two previous Irish court rulings blocking French extradition bids gave him an "ironclad" right not to be surrendered.

"The central submission is that there is a binding judgement of the supreme court that prohibits the surrender of Ian Bailey," Munro told judge Paul Burns.

"In Mr Bailey's case there was a final judgement in 2012; if that wasn't enough there was another judgement in the high court in 2017."

Munro said the third attempt to bring Bailey to France was "prima facie... indicative of an abuse of process."

He added that it was "strange" French authorities had not invited Bailey to attend his own murder trial.

He then read out a written statement from Bailey which said he had "nothing to do with" the death of du Plantier, discovered dead in the early morning wearing night clothes and having been beaten on the head with a concrete block.

Bailey said in the affidavit that he had suffered panic attacks, depression and outbreaks of skin problems as a result of being "overwhelmed" by the stress of his 23-year-long involvement in the case.

"My sleep patterns have been prone to being disturbed with very realistic hunt and re-arrest dreams," the statement said -- adding that he found the loss of his ability to work as a journalist "very distressing".

"Because of my predicament of being a suspected murderer, news organisations were reluctant to be associated to me," said Bailey -- who has never been charged by Irish prosecutors over the case.

He was furthermore unable to travel abroad for fear of being extradited to France and had to miss his mother's funeral -- an ordeal he described as "one of the cruellest aspects of this whole process".

The trial is due to continue on Thursday and Friday with a decision to be delivered at a later date.

(with AFP)

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