Sophie’s mother vows to continue quest for justice

THE mother of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was brutally beaten to death in West Cork 14 years ago, has vowed to continue her quest for justice for her daughter.

Just days before Ian Bailey is due before the High Court in Dublin to fight an extradition order sought by French authorities investigating the case, Marguerite Bouniol has broken her silence since new developments in the case.

“I’ve had to be twice as strong as anyone. But it’s natural, isn’t it, that I should want my daughter’s murderer to be behind bars?” she said.

In an interview at her Paris apartment with The Guardian newspaper, published at the weekend, Ms Bouniol said the awful knowledge that the person who killed her daughter is still at large gnaws away at her and Georges.

And the devout Catholic, who is now in her 70s, said it has shaken her faith in God.

“It depends on the day. There are moments I don’t believe at all. There is something totally unjust and abnormal about parents surviving their children,” she said.

“I know you will say I am biased because I was her mother, but Sophie really did have all the qualities.

“She loved life, she was gay and pretty, she loved meeting people. She spoke to everyone. In Ireland, the people we met told us: ‘She was like one of us’.

“It is very difficult to talk about,” Ms Bouniol said, as her eyes welled with tears. But she regains her composure as if to remain strong for Sophie, the report said.

Sophie, 39, was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in Toormore two days before Christmas 1996.

She was found lying on a dirt path below the driveway of the isolated house wearing blood-soaked nightclothes – a cotton T-shirt and white leggings. A navy dressing gown lay beside the body. A torn patch of her leggings was caught on a stretch of barbed wire and signs of struggle were evident.

The postmortem report showed she had suffered multiple lacerations to her arms and broken fingers to both hands.

Her face had been bludgeoned beyond recognition by a heavy object, probably a cavity block found nearby.

Her right cheek was crushed and her bottom lip was torn. An eye socket was fractured. There was a boot mark on her neck.

Ms Bouniol said that when the autopsy revealed the full extent of Sophie’s injuries, she and Georges could not bring themselves to read it to the end.

No one has ever been charged with the killing.

Ms Bouniol gave her first interview since the French authorities sought the extradition of Mr Bailey with an address at The Prairie, Toormore, Schull, Co Cork, for questioning in connection with Sophie’s death.

The 53-year-old journalist, who was arrested twice by gardaí investigating the case, and released on both occasions without charge, has always denied any involvement in the death.

He was arrested again in April of this year under a European arrest warrant issued by French magistrate Patrick Gachon, who has spent a year examining the case.

Bailey was later released on bail and is due to appear before the High Court in Dublin this week.

His solicitor, Frank Buttimer, insists that any attempt by the French authorities to extradite him will be “vigorously” opposed.

“Mr Bailey has always protested and maintained his innocence,” Mr Buttimer said. “With due respect and sympathy for the family of the late Mme Toscan du Plantier, he has always maintained that any effort by the police to implicate him in relation to the unlawful killing of Mme Toscan du Plantier was misguided and corrupt.”


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