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France

British murder suspect to fight French extradition 'tooth and nail'

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-04-12

A Paris judge has issued a Europe-wide arrest warrant for British journalist Ian Bailey, who is the prime suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan de Plantier (pictured). Bailey spoke out today to vehemently protest his innocence.

A Paris-based investigative magistrate issued on Feb. 19 an arrest warrant for freelance British journalist Ian Bailey over the 1996 murder of a Frenchwoman in Ireland, judicial sources have confirmed. Bailey, who protested his innocence in a leading British newspaper on Monday, is the prime suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan de Plantier, the wife of famed French producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, whose productions include the 1989 film ‘The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover’, by British director Peter Greenaway.

Toscan de Plantier’s battered body was discovered in a country lane in 1996 outside her holiday home at Skull village, in the south-west of Ireland. She was wearing only nightclothes and boots, and the preliminary inquest revealed that she had suffered severe head and facial injuries caused by a blunt instrument. The murder weapon has never been found.

'Tooth and nail'

Leading British daily newspaper the Daily Telegraph published an interview with Bailey Monday in which he declared he would fight extradition from Ireland “tooth and nail.” He also forcibly declared his innocence.

Bailey said that there “is absolutely no foundation to any of the allegations made against me”, and argued that he had been framed by the Irish police. He claimed the entire investigation had been riddled with corruption and errors.

Bailey also told the newspaper that the last 14 years had been “hell.”

He said, “I just want to be able to get on with my life.”

French vs Irish investigation?

Reacting to the news of the arrest warrant in the case of the murder of a French citizen on Irish soil, Bailey’s lawyer Frank Buttimer, told the Daily Telegraph, "The arrogance of the French authorities is astonishing.”

According to French media reports, the French investigative magistrate, Judge Patrick Gachon, had found what appeared to be “inconsistencies between the explanations provided by the journalist and evidence collected by the Irish investigators" and therefore felt able to take action.

Under French law, juges d'instructions, as they are known in France, also have investigative powers.

Bailey, who lived near the victim at the time, became the prime suspect after a neighbour told the police that she had seen him in the area on the night of the murder. But the neighbour later retracted her claim saying she had been pressed into making the statement by local police.

Bailey has been questioned twice by police but has never been charged. He has always maintained his innocence.

14 years waiting for justice

The family of Toscan de Plantier have been campaigning for justice ever since her murder 14 years ago. A pressure group (The Association for the Truth About the Murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier) has been set up to keep the investigation alive. The pressure group, which is backed by Sophie’s parents and powerful figures within France, has voiced its immense frustration that despite high-profile investigation and wall-to-wall press coverage, little real progress has been made.

The Irish High Court is now considering whether to endorse the warrant. It is thought that the entire process of extradition could take many months and possibly even a year.

 

Date created : 2010-04-12

  • CRIME

    France issues warrant for English journalist, accused of 1996 murder

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