French police investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier have continued interviews in West Cork, as her son said the family would “maintain the pressure”.
The efforts of the three French investigators to drive the case forward will see them interview people at locations around West Cork, after a French magistrate Judge Patrick Gachon sought permission to interview up to 20 witnesses.
The three French investigators were due in Bandon Garda station yesterday, but it is thought they are being facilitated in their efforts by gardaí in various stations, if and when required.
Ms du Plantier was murdered near her holiday home in Toormore, Schull in Co Cork, two days before Christmas in 1996.
The visit by the French investigators is the second such visit in recent years after a team of five officers interviewed 30 people in October 2011. Any interviews conducted have to be voluntary, as the French police have no authority to compel people to speak with them. Prior to that, Judge Gachon visited the scene of the murder in June 2009.
Earlier this year, Alain Spilliaert, the lawyer who represents Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, and her son, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud, welcomed the news that another visit to Ireland would be conducted by French police as part of its investigation into the death.
It followed a visit last year to Ireland by a campaign group, the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. The group’s president, Jean-Antoine Bloc-Daude, said on that visit to Cork he did not understand why there was a “blockage” in the case and added: “Our case is being treated like a fiasco.”
Last weekend, French newspaper Le Figaro reported that this visit by investigators is likely to last two weeks and will hear from “a dozen witnesses”, with the information to be added to the file on the case being compiled by Ms Gachon. The newspaper suggested the file will then be completed, meaning this is likely to be the last such visit by the French police here.
This week Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud was interviewed on French television station i-TELE, in which he said he was still seeking justice in the case. He posted the interview on his Facebook page and wrote: “We maintain the pressure — thank you for your support.”
The Department of Justice would not comment on the visit of the French investigators but said any such operation was being conducted thanks to a mutual assistance agreement between Ireland and France.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved