State needs time to consider Ian Bailey’s objections to French extradition, court told

State needs time to consider Ian Bailey’s objections to French extradition, court told
File image of Ian Bailey

Lawyers for the Minister for Justice require time to consider Ian Bailey’s objections to being extradited to France for the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the High Court has been told.

It is the third time French authorities have sought Mr Bailey’s surrender in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier, whose badly beaten body was found 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 last summer. The three-judge Cour d’Assises in Paris accordingly imposed a 25-year prison sentence on him in his absence.

Mr Bailey, who denies any involvement in the mother-of-one’s death, was arrested on foot of a European Arrest Warrant in December. He did not attend the French court and had no legal representation in the proceedings, which he has described as a “farce”.

Counsel for Mr Bailey, Ronan Munro SC, told the High Court today that his client had recently sworn an affidavit setting out his objections to being surrendered.

Mr Munro said the affidavit raised certain factual matters, particularly in relation to Mr Bailey’s health, which lawyers for the Justice Minister required time to consider. He assured Mr Justice Donald Binchy that progress was being made in the case.

Mr Bailey was remanded on continuing bail to February 24 next, when a date for hearing is expected to be fixed.

On the last occasion, Mr Munro said his points of objection were based on his client’s “fundamental rights” and that the authorities’ previous two extradition attempts were “relevant”.

The Supreme Court refused to extradite Mr Bailey in 2012 holding that surrender was prohibited because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory and Irish law did not at the time allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

Counsel for the Minister for Justice, Robert Barron SC, has told the court that the two previous extradition attempts were unsuccessful but in the intervening period, Mr Bailey had been convicted of the Frenchwoman’s voluntary homicide and there had been a change in the law.

Mr Barron said that provisions introduced in the 2019 Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act could raise two possible interpretations of the Supreme Court’s majority finding on extraterritoriality in 2012.

The second French extradition request in respect of My Bailey 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.

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