Government hands over Sophie murder files to French embassy

THE Government has handed the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder files over to the French embassy in Dublin.

Investigators in Paris are seeking evidence from the Garda inquiry into the documentary filmmaker’s killing in Co Cork 12 years ago in the hope of bringing a prosecution there.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said he hoped the development would help Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family in their long-running fight to bring the killer to justice.

“We have kept in very close contact with the French authorities during this process and I would like to pay tribute to them for their co-operation in this matter.

“Above all, though, I want to acknowledge the tireless pursuit of justice by Sophie du Plantier’s family. No-one can say with confidence where today’s development will lead but I hope it is of some assistance to them.”

The dossier was passed over after Irish authorities cleared the final legal hurdle for an international legal assistance request during a hearing in Dublin’s District Court yesterday.

French investigators first asked for the murder files in 2006, but the Department of Justice said it had to refuse because the Garda inquiry was still officially open. But after the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated there was no immediate prospect of charges being brought, Mr Ahern moved to share the evidence.

“I discussed the matter with the Garda commissioner and the attorney-general and we decided at the stage that we were in a position to proceed with addressing that request,” he said.

The minister said it was a matter of deep regret to both himself and gardaí that nobody was ever charged with the killing.

“I’ve taken a deep personal interest in bringing about this situation, so today I am satisfied that at least this step has been taken in the effort to secure justice,” he said.

“I want to emphasise, however, that the Garda investigation remains open and every lead will be pursued.

“It is not too late for people to come forward with any information which they have which might be useful.”

Ms Toscan du Plantier was found bludgeoned to death outside her holiday home near Schull on December 23, 1996.

The 39-year-old mother of one was the third wife of renowned French film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier.

Paris-based magistrate Patrick Gachon launched an inquiry last June into the killing.

French law allows for investigators to probe the suspicious deaths of their citizens abroad.

Ian Bailey, journalist, was twice arrested by Garda officers investigating the murder but was never charged. He has always maintained his innocence.

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