British man sues Ireland over French murder case

5th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

An Irish court on Wednesday began hearing the high-profile case of a British journalist suing Ireland for wrongful arrest over the murder of a French woman in a remote spot in 1996.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, the 39-year-old wife of a celebrated French film producer, was found beaten to death at her holiday home in County Cork in southwest Ireland.

Briton Ian Bailey, a former freelance journalist who has long lived in Ireland near the home where she was staying, was twice arrested for questioning but was never charged.

The civil case for damages is being heard in the High Court in Dublin before judge John Hedigan.

Bailey was in court for the start of the proceedings.

The lawsuit against the Irish state is expected to take around six weeks, the jury of eight men and four women heard.

Bailey's lawyers, who have begun outlining their case, allege the police conspired and manufactured evidence with a view to getting him prosecuted.

In 2008 a French magistrate began a separate inquiry, building an investigation file independently of the Irish police file, and in February 2010 issued an arrest warrant for Bailey.

Ireland's Supreme Court has overturned a decision to extradite him.

However, a European Arrest Warrant remains in place, which means Bailey is effectively barred from leaving Ireland.

Bailey has always protested his innocence and has spoken of the long-running legal proceedings as a personal "hell".

The family of the mother-of-one has set up the Association for the Truth About the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (ASSOPH) to campaign for justice.

Daniel Toscan du Plantier, producer of a host of films including "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" starring Helen Mirren, died in 2003 aged 61.

© 2014 AFP

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