Legal expert: Ian Bailey has suffered 10-year 'Kafkaesque' nightmare

Legal expert: Ian Bailey has suffered 10-year 'Kafkaesque' nightmare

The most recent European Arrest Warrant was for Ian Bailey (pictured) to serve a 25-year sentence handed down by French courts for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier at her Schull holiday home in December 1996. File photo: PA

Ian Bailey has been subjected to a “life-destroying Kafkaesque nightmare” because of the repetitive court appearances in relation to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a leading legal expert has said.

Professor Dermot Walsh said the “silver lining” in the protracted legal battles has been the “integrity” of the Irish prosecution service, the DPP, and the “tenacity” of the Irish courts.

Prof. Walsh made the comments in a detailed analysis of the decision last month of the High Court, which rejected a third extradition request from France.

The most recent European Arrest Warrant was for Mr Bailey to serve a 25-year sentence handed down by French courts for the murder of Ms du Plantier at her Schull holiday home in December 1996.

Prof. Walsh, head of Kent Law School in Britain, said he hoped the High Court decision “draws a red line” under what he said was one of the most extraordinary cases in Irish and EU criminal law.

“The decision marks the third occasion on which French authorities attempted, unsuccessfully, to secure the surrender of Ian Bailey from Ireland to be prosecuted and punished in France for a murder that was actually committed in Ireland,” he said.

The former law lecturer in University College Cork and author of various books on Irish and European law said the submission of EAWs for Mr Bailey began in 2010.

He said the case offered “disturbing insights” into how the EAW could be used to subject a person to two national criminal procedures, which, he said, combined “oppressively” to deny basic standards of due process and fairness in respect of the same criminal offence.

“The result for Ian Bailey (and his partner) has been a life-destroying Kafkaesque nightmare in which he has been the victim of repetitive litigation aimed at depriving him of his liberty, freedom of movement, privacy and reputation,” Prof. Walsh said.

“The silver lining in all of this has been the integrity of the Irish DPP and the tenacity of the Irish courts. 

"They have been steadfast in applying the law and due process standards in the face of persistent attempts to pursue Bailey for the murder, despite the paucity of credible evidence against him.” 

He said the State decision not to appeal the High Court decision to the Supreme Court "hopefully will finally bring an end to this most extraordinary EAW litigation and allow Ian Bailey some room to pick up the pieces of what is left of his life".

He said the High Court's decision was based on technical legal grounds.

The academic said the fact remained that major issues have been left unresolved.

“First and foremost is the fact that no one has been brought to justice in Ireland for the brutal murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. This cannot be covered up by a trial and conviction in Paris that was based on unreliable and untested evidence," he said.

“It remains the case that the original Garda investigation failed to gather credible and reliable evidence that would have warranted charging Ian Bailey or anyone else with the murder."

He said serious questions about why that is need to be asked and "answered convincingly".

He added: “Despite repeated litigation, a judicial inquiry and an investigation by the independent Garda Ombudsman Commission into discrete aspects of his case, disturbing questions remain around the manner and extent to which the Gardaí pursued their investigation of Bailey.

“Similarly, serious questions remain around the manner and extent to which the Irish justice ministry contributed to securing the prosecution and trial of an Irish resident in France for an Irish murder that was still officially under investigation in Ireland." 

He concluded: "Until all of these questions are answered fully and transparently, serious concerns over the administration of Irish criminal justice will persist and fester."

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