THE Department of Justice has stressed that the investigation into the murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier is not finished here despite a move to allow French police carry out their own examination of evidence gathered in the case.
A team of French forensic experts is to travel to Ireland in the coming weeks to examine dozens of items gathered by gardaí in and around the west Cork crime scene, including articles of Ms Toscan du Plantier’s clothing, DNA and blood samples, and a block thought to have been used to batter her.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern agreed to a formal request for access to the items by the French authorities who began their own probe into the 1996 killing two years ago after the Garda investigation here repeatedly ran into a brick wall.
He previously instructed the Garda Commissioner to hand over a comprehensive written dossier on the case to the French who subsequently exhumed the 39-year-old mother of one’s body to carry out fresh forensic tests.
The department said, however, the French team’s work would be overseen by members of the Garda Technical Bureau and no physical evidence would be allowed leave the country.
“The file has not been closed in Ireland,” a spokesman stressed.
The French investigation is proceeding alongside efforts to extradite Ian Bailey, the former freelance journalist and self-proclaimed suspect for the murder, who was arrested and questioned twice in connection with Ms Toscan du Plantier’s death, but never charged.
A European arrest warrant (EWA) was issued by France for Mr Bailey’s arrest last April but, while the High Court approved the execution of the warrant, it has been held up by Mr Bailey’s indication that he intends to fight a full appeal against it.
The EWA states that Mr Bailey, 53, is wanted by French authorities for the alleged assault, battery and murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, all of which he strenuously denies. The matter is due for mention in the High Court next month when it is expected a date for an appeal hearing will be set.
Ms Toscan du Plantier was found dead with serious head injuries near her holiday home at Toormore near Schull, Co Cork on December 23, 1996. Mr Bailey emerged as a suspect following reports of his odd behaviour in relation to the murder, but flaws were later revealed in the gathering of some witness statements.
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