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French detectives return to Ireland to question witnesses over du Plantier death

A French magistrate will rule on whether suspect Ian Bailey will be tried for the murder in France in his absence after this round of interviews is concluded.

Holding an image of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is her uncle Jean-Pierre Gazeau
Holding an image of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is her uncle Jean-Pierre Gazeau
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

FRENCH DETECTIVES ARE due to return to Ireland next month to conduct a final round of interviews as part of an investigation into the murder of French film maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Schull, Co Cork.

The Irish Independent reports that the French magistrate investigating the death of the French woman in 1996 in West Cork will rule on whether suspect Ian Bailey should be tried in absentia as soon as this round of interviews is concluded.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Ian Bailey’s solicitor Frank Buttimer said he has not been contacted by French police seeking cooperation from Bailey and said it would be “beyond belief”.

“If there was any approach by the so called French authorities, it would be dealt with appropriately”, he said.

Bailey, a former journalist, has always denied any involvement in the woman’s murder and the Supreme Court ruled in March that he should not be extradited to France for questioning on foot of a European arrest warrant.

However the French authorities may still seek to try Bailey in his absence and if convicted, his extradition to France would be sought again, this time as a convicted person to serve a sentence.

“Ian Bailey has always maintained that the extradition would be refused and that in the event of a refusal, he would be tried in absentia,” Buttimer said.

Du Plantier’s body was found outside her West Cork home just days before Christmas 1996. Her family launched a campaign this month to have Ireland taken to the European Court of Justice in order to have its extradition laws changed.

In French law, a person can be tried in France for an offence against a French citizen, regardless of where in the world it occurred.

Buttimer said his client believes it would be impossible for him to obtain a fair hearing in France as he has “already been deemed guilty by the French system”.

Related: Toscan du Plantier murder: Family begins legal battle to change Irish laws>
Ian Bailey “not the only suspect” in Toscan du Plantier murder investigation>

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