Ian Bailey (file photo)

French court to begin trying Ian Bailey 'in absentia' for murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

The French TV producer was killed in Co Cork in 1996.

IAN BAILEY WILL go on trial for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in a Paris court today, 22 years after the French film producer’s killing in Co Cork.

However, the 62 year-old former freelance journalist, who denies involvement in Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s killing, will be tried in absentia following a ruling by a French court last year.

Bailey’s lawyers Dominique Tricaud and Frank Buttimer told reporters that he will not appear or be represented during the trial, which is expected to last a week.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was the wife of film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was beaten to death at her holiday home in Cork on December 23, 1996.

Injuries to her hands showed that she had struggled to defend herself, while a large rock and bloodstained evidence was found near her body.

DANIEL AND SOPHIE TOSCAN DU PLANTIER Sophie Toscan du Plantier with her husband Daniel SIPA / SIPA / /

Bailey, who is originally from the UK, was arrested for questioning twice by gardaí, but was never charged and continues to live near the home where Sophie Toscan du Plantier was staying.

Despite the lack of DNA evidence at the scene of the crime, he soon became the main suspect in the case, partly due to scratches on his arms and forehead, which he attributed to dealing with a Christmas tree and carving a turkey for dinner.

French authorities issued warrants for Bailey’s arrest in 2010 and 2016, but Ireland refused both requests, citing the lack of a reciprocal extradition deal between the two countries.

If found guilty, Bailey could face a 30-year jail sentence and France could again seek his extradition which would then be “difficult to refuse”, said Marie Dose, a solicitor for the Toscan du Plantier family.

She added that Bailey is refusing to appear in the French court “because he is afraid of being sentenced and with good reason”.

“This case, even in the absence of the accused, will take place and the work of justice will be done,” she said.

Bailey’s solicitors described the trial in France as a “a judicial error”, adding that their client has “already been condemned” there.

Earlier this year, Bailey told Virgin Media News that he was “greatly imperiled” by the prospect of the trial.

“I know I had that I nothing to do with this and I am going to finish up a convicted murderer,” he said.

“I am actually an innocent man. What will happen in France is that they will probably celebrate the fact that I have been convicted.

“All they’ll have succeeded in doing is convicting an innocent man.”

His solicitor Frank Buttimer also said that Bailey has always extended his deepest sympathy to Sophie Toscan Du Plantier’s family on their loss.

“He has an understanding of the trauma and suffering which they have experienced and he continues to express his sympathy to them,” Buttimer said. 

“He maintains as he has always done, he had nothing to do with the unlawful killing.”

A verdict in the case is expected to be handed down on Friday.

With additional reporting from - © AFP 2019. Comments have been closed as legal proceedings are active in the case.