A fresh translation of a “difficult to follow” French court judgement, in which Ian Bailey was found guilty of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder in absentia, was handed back to the State today after the High Court heard there were continuing issues with it.
Mr Bailey was not in court for today's brief hearing.
On Monday, Mr Justice Donald Binchy endorsed a European Arrest Warrant for Mr Bailey at the High Court, where the British man was subsequently arrested and remanded on bail to appear again on January 20 next.
The endorsement marked the third time that French authorities have sought Mr Bailey’s surrender in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.
At the same hearing on Monday, Ronan Munro SC, for Mr Bailey, said that in terms of presenting points of objection to Mr Bailey's extradition, Mr Bailey's legal team needed a better translation of the judgement of the French court annexed to the arrest warrant, saying there are portions of the translation that are "difficult to follow".
He asked for the court to request that someone from the Minister for Justice's office or the issuing state translate the judgement into the "mother tongue".
Mr Justice Binchy subsequently told the court that he also had "great difficulty reading" it and requested "in short, a better translation" of the judgement.
The court heard that today’s hearing was a “notional hearing” that Mr Bailey did not need to attend and that he is due to appear again on January 20, 2020.
Leo Mulrooney BL, for the State, told Mr Justice Binchy that he was in a position to hand a fresh translation of the judgement into the court.
However, minutes later, Mr Mulrooney returned to the court and told Mr Justice Binchy: “I haven’t had a chance to read it [the fresh translation] yet but I’m told that unfortunately there may be translation issues in that document as well.
“So maybe the court shouldn’t trouble itself to read it and a better translation will be made in due course.”
The judge thanked Mr Mulrooney and then handed the translation he received back to the barrister “so I don’t mix it up”.
25-year prison sentence
Mr Bailey, with an address at The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, was convicted of the Frenchwoman’s murder in his absence in a Paris court earlier this year.
The three-judge Cour d’Assises in Paris accordingly imposed a 25-year prison sentence on him in his absence.
The 62-year-old Englishman denies any involvement in the mother-of-one’s death.
He did not attend the French court and had no legal representation in the proceedings, which he has described as a “farce”.
On Monday, Mr Munro told the court that endorsing the warrant for Mr Bailey would simply expose Mr Bailey to another abuse of process.
He recalled the judgement of Mr Justice Tony Hunt in the High Court in July 2017 when the second French extradition request in respect of Mr Bailey was dismissed as an “abuse of process”.
Mr Justice Hunt held that the “unique features” of the case justified “termination” of the proceedings.
He also said that Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions had concluded “long ago that there is no basis for either (a) charge or trial on this matter in this jurisdiction, and unusually, a comprehensive statement of reasons for this prosecutorial decision came into the public domain during the previous Supreme Court” case.
Lawyers for the State submitted that the law had changed since that decision in 2017 and argued that, in the interim period, Mr Bailey had also been convicted of murder at a trial in France in his absence.
Mr Justice Binchy then said he was "satisfied to endorse the warrant" following two significant "changes", namely a change in the law and Mr Bailey's conviction, in absence, in France.
He said it was "appropriate" to endorse the warrant and to not do so "would be to eliminate all arguments" in the substantive case. Such a move would be “premature", the judge said.
'I just want to say I had nothing to do with this crime'
The Supreme Court refused to extradite Mr Bailey in 2012 holding that surrender was prohibited because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory and Irish law does not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.
Earlier this month, at an earlier hearing, Robert Barron SC, for the State, said that would have been the end of the matter.
However, he said provisions introduced in the Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act 2019 raised two possible interpretations of the Supreme Court’s majority finding on extraterritoriality in 2012.
He said he was putting the “two alternative versions of the Supreme Court judgment up in the air”.
If the High Court held that surrender was still prohibited - under section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 - then it could refuse to endorse the warrant.
On Monday the court also heard that when Detective Sergeant Jim Kirwan, of the Garda Extradition Unit, arrested Mr Bailey at the Criminal Courts of Justice on Parkgate Street, Dublin 8, he asked Mr Bailey if he knew what the arrest was about.
The court heard Mr Bailey replied: "Yes I do. I just want to say I had nothing to do with this crime."