French authorities ‘closed door on themselves forever’ with extradition bid

French authorities effectively “closed the door on themselves forever” when they made a second attempt to extradite former journalist Ian Bailey to France, despite a Supreme Court ruling which prohibited the surrender of the Englishman, a court has heard.

Mr Bailey is facing a third extradition process to France, where he is facing a 25-year prison sentence after being convicted in his absence of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Ronan Munro SC, for Mr Bailey, told the High Court in Dublin that a second request by French authorities to extradite Mr Bailey in 2017 was “doomed to fail”.

He added that it was also a “direct assault” on the judgment of the Supreme Court in 2012.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier (Family handout/PA)

Bailey, 63, was arrested last year after a High Court judge endorsed a European Arrest Warrant issued by French authorities.

He is wanted in France for the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in Schull, Co Cork, in December 1996.

Bailey, with an address at The Prairie in Schull, was convicted of murder in his absence by a court in Paris in May last year.

The three-judge court imposed a 25-year sentence.

He had no legal representation for the case, did not attend the court and described it at the time as a farce.

He denies any involvement in the French woman’s death.

Mr Munro told the High Court on Thursday that another attempt to extradite his client was an “abuse of process”.

He said the court should put a “stop to this” and let Mr Bailey get on with his life and allow the gardai to get on with their job.

He told the court that there was “little consideration” given to the prejudicial effects and impact on Mr Bailey by the French authorities.

Mr Munro added: “The 2017 extradition process was doomed to fail. It was a direct assault on the decision of the Supreme Court. It was saying your Supreme Court got it wrong and when that gamble was taken and lost, they closed the door on themselves forever.

“That was the turning point. They have lost the right to ask for the same thing again, particularly when it was not explained how they saw fit to oppose the application.”

Mr Munro also said that the warrants from French authorities “will never stop, it seems”.

“If Mr Bailey isn’t being treated equally, then he begins to feel part of the abused process. We are here to restore equality and eliminate the abuse,” he added.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that Mr Bailey could not be extradited to France based on the European Arrest Warrant Act because the alleged murder did not happen in the issuing state.

Mr Munro said that if an Englishman who was a resident in France killed an Irish woman in France, Ireland could not claim jurisdiction.

The court heard that a representative of Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family is attending court throughout the three-day hearing.

Addressing the woman, Mr Justice Paul Burns said that the submissions of the extradition process may seem “cold and dry”.

Justice Burns added: “Court hearings of any kind can be distressing but the dry nature should not be taken as that anyone has forgotten about the tragic nature of the background.

“The court wishes to send its condolences to the family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.”

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