French authorities are almost certain to try Ian Bailey in his absence for murder, the lawyer representing the family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier indicated.
Fresh extradition proceedings will follow if that happens, Alain Spilliaert said, describing as a “big disappointment” yesterday’s Supreme Court decision but insisting: “This is not the end of the battle.”
However, the arrest warrant on which the original extradition bid was based could face a legal challenge on the grounds it restricts Ian Bailey’s right to travel. His solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said he wanted it set aside as, despite yesterday’s ruling, it remained outstanding.
Mr Spilliaert said the Supreme Court decision was a surprise, given that the High Court last year had indicated it regarded the warrant as having been issued for a prosecution and not just an investigation. The ruling had been upsetting for the du Plantier family.
“It was a very big disappointment as we had been confident, given the decision of the High Court last year, that the extradition process would go through. This is very difficult for the family as they have been waiting for justice for 15 years and we were hopeful that Ian Bailey would be questioned and interviewed by a magistrate in France.”
He said that while the extradition request had been based on a European-Irish warrant, the inquiry that followed by a French magistrate continues.
“We might have in the near future, a trial in absence in France and after that, a new process of extradition. Witnesses were interviewed by French police in Ireland last October and that might lead to some results. We must remain confident, as everybody wants to find justice,” he said speaking on RTÉ Radio’s News at One.
Mr Buttimer said that he and his team had always been aware that his client could be the subject of a trial in absentia.
“We always knew that the French had taken the view that, whether or not Mr Bailey is extradited, that French law allows trials in absentia, a system we do not have here.”
He said it was his wish to seek to have the warrant set aside as, despite the Supreme Court ruling, it was still outstanding and interfered with his client’s freedom of travel and movement, as guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights.
“We will look at the ongoing consequences of the warrant. We have a French lawyer representing us in France and we will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Mr Bailey’s rights are vindicated.”
Mr Buttimer said Mr Bailey would press ahead with a stalled civil action against the State, now that the extradition process had been completely resolved.
He also described a review of the Garda investigation into the case by the office of the DPP as “the most devastating critique which I have ever read in my 32 years of experience as a criminal lawyer”.
“It identifies corruption, manipulation of witnesses and suppression of evidence. It specifically states, in 2001, as result of investigative activity of Mr Bailey, that the quality of his life had been destroyed.
“That is a document that has existed for 11 years and came into our possession in curious circumstances in Nov, 2011 as the Supreme Court proceedings were about to take off. It is absolutely devastating stuff.”
It would be unacceptable for authorities either in Ireland or anywhere else to ignore the contents of the document, he said, and added that it was now a matter to be considered by those State agencies that have an overview of justice and proper policing.
Mr Buttimer added that no jurisdiction would bring a prosecution against Mr Bailey if authorities accepted the contents of the critique, which was prepared in 2001 by a senior office holder under the direction of the then DPP James Hamilton but which is disputed by gardaí.
“We laid it before the Supreme Court and comments in the judgment refer to that document. The Supreme Court has read that document and read other material given by us.”
He said it was not necessary for the court to consider the critique as the unanimous judgment in Mr Bailey’s favour was secured on other grounds.
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