French-Irish murder case closed without answers

28th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

DUBLIN, April 27, 2006 (AFP) - The family of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier have abandoned an Irish civil court action against an English journalist connected with her murder almost 10 years ago, a lawyer said on Thursday.

DUBLIN, April 27, 2006 (AFP) - The family of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier have abandoned an Irish civil court action against an English journalist connected with her murder almost 10 years ago, a lawyer said on Thursday.

The du Plantier family had lodged a civil action in Ireland's High Court in December 2002 seeking damages from Ian Bailey, a freelance journalist.

No one has ever been charged with the murder of du Plantier, whose late husband Daniel Toscan du Plantier was chief of France's Gaumont film studios.

Du Plantier was 39 when she was found beaten to death on December 23, 1996 in a lane leading to her holiday home in the Toomore Valley on the Mizen peninsula in County Cork.

Bailey, who lives in west Cork, in southwest Ireland, was questioned twice by the Gardai (Irish police) in connection with the murder, which he had reported as a journalist. He has consistently protested his innocence.

Bailey's lawyer, Frank Buttimer, said he was informed on Wednesday that a notice of discontinuance in the civil case had been lodged by the family's legal representative.

He said the decision had been taken following talks between the two sides.

"Two months ago I was in touch with the family's solicitor to see whether the family would be willing to withdraw the action against Mr Bailey," Buttimer told RTE national radio.

"As a result of that initial contact, further discussions took place and yesterday I spoke with the family's solicitor who confirmed to me that a notice of discontinuance had been served and lodged in the High Court thereby putting an end to the family's action against Mr Bailey."

The court action — initiated by du Plantier's parents George and Marguerite Bouniol and her son Pierre Louise Baudey — had sought damages for fatal injuries to du Plantier and her wrongful death.

If the legal action had gone ahead it would been a first in Ireland involving a murder. Personal injury claims for a fatality are normally served in cases such as industrial accidents or other accidental tragedies.

A civil legal action requires a lesser burden of proof — on the balance of probabilities — than a criminal prosecution where facts must be established beyond all reasonable doubt.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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