A fresh legal battle looms in the country’s highest courts following reports that French authorities are seeking the extradition of Ian Bailey to face charges of killing Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
French media reported that the magistrate investigating the case had issued an indictment order for voluntary manslaughter against Mr Bailey before a Paris criminal court.
The reports said a European arrest warrant had been issued against him on July 13 and that Irish authorities had been notified.
However, the Irish Examiner understands that the warrant is still in the process of being formally submitted from France.
Ms du Plantier, 39, was discovered fatally beaten near her holiday home outside Schull, West Cork, on December 23, 1996.
The imminent warrant is the second one issued by the French investigation in relation to Mr Bailey.
The first request was granted in the High Court but was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2012, which ruled that he could not be extradited for the purposes of questioning.
The judges ruled that no decision had been taken by French authorities to put Mr Bailey on trial and that such a decision was required under Irish law for a person to be extradited.
Four of the five judges also ruled that he should not be extradited because the offence had been committed outside France.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has directed against prosecuting Mr Bailey in relation to the murder of Ms du Plantier.
Legal sources said the new warrant is reportedly based on a decision to charge Mr Bailey with an offence, thereby appearing to meet the first objection of the Supreme Court.
“The decision in France is the same as a charge, so the rules of the game have changed,” said one source.
However, the second reason by four of the five judges in the Supreme Court — over France not having jurisdiction — could feature strongly in legal objections by Mr Bailey and his solicitor Frank Buttimer.
The case could end up in the Supreme Court again if the High Court grants the extradition request.
A statement from the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier said: “The decision to commit to a criminal trial represents an important milestone in the search for truth and justice about a horrendous crime that the Irish authorities have been, so far, unable to solve.”
Mr Buttimer said it was a “farce” and said his client has had to endure a 20-year association with a crime he did not commit.
He told RTÉ’s Drivetime Mr Bailey’s life had been “destroyed by the connection”.
He said any prosecution in France would be a “show trial” and said: “Mr Bailey is innocent. Why should he be defended? When does this stop?”
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