Martin and Macron address issue of justice over murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

The Taoiseach urged anyone with information to come forward even at this late stage.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is a “terrible stain” on the country, urging anyone with information to come forward, even at this late stage. 

He made the comments during a press conference at Government Buildings with French President Emmanuel Macron this afternoon. 

President Macron also extended his sympathies to Sophie’s family, stating that “so much suffering remains” for them. 

Last year, the Irish State determined that it would not appeal the High Court’s decision refusing to surrender Ian Bailey to the French authorities to serve a 25-year prison sentence imposed by a French court for the murder of du Plantier 24 years ago.

Bailey denies any involvement in the death of du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996. He has been twice arrested but never charged in relation to her death.

In May 2019, the former journalist was convicted of the French woman’s murder in his absence by the three-judge Cour d’Assises (criminal trial court) in Paris, which went on to impose a 25-year prison sentence. Bailey did not attend the French court and had no legal representation in the proceedings, which he has described as a “farce”.

The High Court ruled that his surrender was precluded under Section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003. This section deals with offences committed outside of the State seeking the surrender of an alleged offender.

When asked about the case today, the Taoiseach said the murder was a “terrible and horrible deed”. The murder of an innocent woman had impacted on the entire community of west Cork, he said, adding that “it is still a source of great pain and grief in west Cork that such an atrocity could happen within what is a lovely community”. 

Martin offered her family his sincere sympathies and also empathy. He told reporters today that he had watched recent documentaries on the case, stating: 

“One could not but be struck by the nobility and the dignity of Sophie’s family.”

The case is still an open investigation in respect of the gardaí, he added, stating that the government cannot interfere in the judicial process. 

“But we want justice to be done,” he said. 

“It is a terrible stain in terms of our country, in terms of what happened to a person of great substance, who loved her visits to west Cork. It is incomprehensible what happened on that perfect evening,” said the Taoiseach. 

The case continues to “grip the Irish public”, he said. He urged anyone with information relating to the case to come forward to the authorities. 

The French president also extended his sympathies to the family, stating that “so much suffering remains” for her family. 

Macron noted that Bailey had been found guilty in the French court. “Should the person condemned agree to come to France, a new trial could be organised but so far he has been refusing to do so,” said Macron.

The president said the High Court in Ireland refuses to implement the European Arrest Warrant, and added that the French court is now considering what to do next.

Under Irish law, the State could bring a prosecution for a murder committed outside of Ireland where the alleged offender is an Irish citizen or ordinarily resident here.  
However, in France an “extraterritorial” prosecution can be brought on the basis that the alleged victim was French. In this case, France is seeking the surrender of a non-French citizen or resident for an alleged murder committed outside of France.

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