Ireland to extradite man to France over 1996 murder

18th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ireland's High Court ruled on Friday that a British man can be extradited to France for questioning about the 1996 murder of the wife of a French film producer.

Ian Bailey, 54, was the subject of a European arrest warrant over the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, 39, the wife of the late Daniel Toscan du Plantier, the former chief of France's Gaumont film studios.

She was found beaten to death on December 23, 1996 in County Cork in southern Ireland, close to her holiday home. Bailey has always maintained his innocence.

"I am satisfied that there is no reason why surrender must be refused," judge Michael Peart said.

He deferred the formal extradition order until next Tuesday to give Bailey's lawyers time to consider an appeal.

Bailey, dressed in a sombre suit and red tie, stood hand in hand with his partner after the hearing but made no comment to reporters outside the high court.

His lawyer Frank Buttimer said they would study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

"The judgment of the court runs for approximately 60 pages. It's a very detailed judgement. We will have to take our time to analyse the judgment and and consider the implications," Buttimer said.

Alain Spilliaert, the lawyer for the victim's family, said the judge had ruled that there were "serious and consistent justifications for questioning Ian Bailey."

Jean-Pierre Gazeau, the victim's uncle, said they were "deeply satisfied" but that "there is still a long way to go."

No one has ever been charged with du Plantier's killing.

Irish police questioned Bailey, a former journalist, twice but released him without charge on both occasions.

The Irish police file on the murder investigation was handed over to French authorities in 2008 in an unusual move that was cleared by an Irish judge.

Toscan du Plantier's body, in nightclothes and boots, was discovered by a neighbour on a lane. A preliminary inquest heard that she had suffered severe head and facial injuries caused by a blunt instrument.

No murder weapon was ever found.

Her husband -- whose productions included Peter Greenaway's 1989 film "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover" -- died in February 2003 while attending the Berlin film festival. He was 61.

© 2011 AFP

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