By Ruaidhrí Giblin
The High Court will decide later this month whether it will endorse a warrant seeking Ian Bailey’s extradition to France for the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
It is the third time French authorities have sought Mr Bailey’s surrender in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.
The 62-year-old Englishman, with an address at The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, was convicted of the Frenchwoman’s murder in his absence in a Paris court earlier this year. The three-judge Cour d’Assises in Paris accordingly imposed a 25-year prison sentence on him in his absence.
Mr Bailey denies any involvement in the mother-of-one’s death. He did not attend the French court and had no legal representation in the proceedings, which he has described as a “farce”.
Lawyers for the Minister for Justice told the High Court today that they had received a third European Arrest Warrant from French authorities seeking Mr Bailey’s surrender.
Counsel for the Minister, Robert Barron SC, told the court that the previous two extradition attempts were unsuccessful but in the intervening period, Mr Bailey had been convicted of the Frenchwoman’s death.
Mr Justice Donald Binchy said he would adjourn endorsing the warrant to allow both sides make submissions on legal issues raised by the application.
Mr Justice Binchy said he believed the process of endorsing extradition warrants was “unique” to Ireland and that he thought it was a good process.
He said the High Court had declined to endorse extradition requests in the past. It was “rare” but it had happened, the judge said. He added that the circumstances of this extradition request were probably “unique”.
The court heard that the first extradition attempt resulted in a Supreme Court finding that Mr Bailey’s surrender was prohibited because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory and Irish law does not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.
A second extradition request was dismissed as an “abuse of process” by the High Court in 2017, with Mr Justice Tony Hunt holding that the “unique features” of the case justified “termination” of the proceedings.
Mr Justice Hunt said Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions had concluded “long ago that there is no basis for either (a) charge or trial on this matter in this jurisdiction, and unusually, a comprehensive statement of reasons for this prosecutorial decision came into the public domain during the previous Supreme Court” case.
More to follow…