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State will not appeal decision refusing to surrender Ian Bailey to French authorities

The High Court earlier this month refused to order his surrender.

Image: Brian Lawless/PA Images

Updated Oct 27th 2020, 1:26 PM

THE STATE WILL 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 Sophie Toscan du Plantier 24 years ago.

At the High Court today Robert Barron SC for the Minister for Justice told Justice Paul Burns that the State was not seeking a certificate to appeal the judge’s decision. Justice Burns also ordered that Bailey can recover his legal costs from the State.

Barron further told the judge that Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family wanted a copy of the judge’s ruling, delivered earlier this month, refusing the application for Bailey’s surrender. The judge said a copy of his judgment should be made available to the family and to the French authorities.

Bailey (63) of The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, denies any involvement in the death of Ms 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”.

In his judgement on October 12 rejecting the State’s application to surrender Bailey, who is a British citizen ordinarily resident in Ireland, the judge 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.

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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.

In his judgement, Justice Burns found there was no reciprocity between French and Irish law in the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction for the offence of murder in this case, as the French basis for extraterritoriality remains the nationality of the alleged victim, whereas an Irish basis would be the nationality or ordinary residence of the alleged perpetrator. 

About the author:

Eoin Reynolds

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