Opening of a hearing on Ian Bailey’s plan to extradite to France

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A request for the extradition of Ian Bailey to France for the third time, where he faces a 25-year prison sentence for the murder of director Sophie Toscan du Plantier, is “an abuse of process”, said his lawyers. at the High Court.Ronan Munro SC, on behalf of Mr. Bailey, said today that his client had an “absolute right” not to be handed over to France and that he had not been threatened in any way by subsequent developments of the law.

This is the third time that the French authorities have requested the surrender of Mr. Bailey following the death of Mrs. du Plantier, whose severely beaten body was found outside her vacation home in Schull in December 1996.

Mr. Bailey (63), who lives in The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, West Cork, was found guilty of the murder of the Frenchwoman in her absence before a Paris court in May 2019.

Consequently, the Court of Assizes (court of first instance) in Paris sentenced Mr. Bailey to 25 years in prison in his absence. The Englishman, who denies any implication in the death of his mother, did not appear before the French court and was not represented by a lawyer within the framework of the procedure which he described as “farce”.

Mr. Bailey was arrested at the Palace of Criminal Justice at the foot of a European arrest warrant in December 2019.

He was placed in pre-trial detention after a judge of the High Court subsequently approved the third European arrest warrant (EAW) requesting his extradition to France.

Bailey faces 25-year prison sentence for the murder of Mrs. du Plantier and the three-day full extradition hearing, where he will challenge the request for surrender, which opened today before the Irish High Court one day. after July 14 France.

At the start of this morning’s hearing, counsel for Mr. Bailey, David Conlan Smyth SC with Ronan Munro SC and Marc Thompson BL, stated that Mr. Munro would make legal submissions on the issue of “res judicata” – an issue which has been decided by a competent court and therefore cannot be prosecuted by the same parties – and Mr. Conlan Smyth would deal with Mr. Bailey’s fair trial rights.

Opening a request for a postponement, the lawyer for the Minister of Justice, Robert Barron SC with Leo Mulrooney BL, led judge Paul Burns through the formalities of the EAW. Barron said the EAW had been completed by the French authorities, saying that Bailey had not appeared at his trial last year and that he would be entitled to a new trial if postponed.

Opposing a request for the surrender of Mr. Bailey to France, Mr. Munro stated that the central argument at the hearing was that there was a binding judgment of the Supreme Court in 2012 which prohibited the surrender of his client on the basis of article 44 of the law of 2003 on the European arrest warrant, which remains intact and intact.

Article 44 stipulates that a person must not be surrendered under this law if the offense specified in the European arrest warrant was committed in a place other than the issuing State and the the offense did not, since it was committed in a place other than the State, constitute an offense under the law of the State.

The lawyer argued that his client had an “absolute right” as well as an “absolute right” not to be handed over to France.

Munro argued that the state’s legal submissions stated that the 2012 Supreme Court decision could be distinguished due to a change in law with the 2019 Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act.

“I think what this means is that if an Englishman ordinarily resident in Ireland is wanted today for the murder of Madame du Plantier in 1996, that person would not benefit from the interpretation of article 44 in because of a legislative change, “said Mr. Munro. , adding that he did not accept this proposal for a second.

The lawyer said he “threw the gauntlet” on the advice of the Minister of Justice, Mr. Barron, to show why a legislative change had disregarded the decision of the Supreme Court. In addition, Mr. Munro said he did not accept that the 2019 Criminal Law Act had brought about a significant change.

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Justice Burns intervened at this point and asked if last year’s change in law had not significantly affected the 2012 Supreme Court decision, so the High Court was bound by this. In response, Mr. Munro said so and stressed that the 2019 legislation did not seek to “dismantle” or nullify Mr. Bailey’s “acquired right” not to be sold.

Furthermore, Mr. Munro argued that a third set of proceedings and a third attempt to prosecute his client were “an abuse of process”, to which the court must apply a very high level of control. “The very fact that there is a third set of procedures is the very indicator that an abuse of process has taken place,” he said.

Mr. Munro also told the High Court that his client had signed an affidavit setting out his objections to the delivery to France as well as certain questions of fact, particularly with regard to his health.

In the affidavit, Mr. Bailey stated that he had nothing to do with the murder of Ms. du Plantier and that he had been in contact with Ms. Jules Thomas for over 25 years. He spoke of his difficulty finding a job as a journalist due to the direct consequences of the false allegations made against him.

He said he suffered from depressive episodes, which can manifest as epidemics on his skin, and also had panic attacks. The seriousness of the allegation, the modalities of the garda investigation and the requests for extradition put considerable pressure and unwelcome attention on him and his family, he said.

Mr. Bailey stated that although he was not subject to criminal proceedings in Ireland, he was the subject of criminal proceedings and that his reputation suffered greatly in the small rural community where he lives.

He tries not to linger “on the hunt” and the poetry writing has had a cathartic effect on him, he said. His sleep patterns have been disrupted and he has a recurring dream of being arrested and confined to a cell saying, “It’s so realistic that this is why I wake up and it can take me a while to recover.” ”

In addition, Mr Bailey stated that he was very restricted and that he had been unable to travel freely since the issuance of the European arrest warrant in 2010. He explained that he was unable to return visiting his mother in a UK nursing home or attending his funeral, he said “had been one of the cruelest parts of this whole process”.

Munro said that one of the unique features of this case is that the French trial was based mainly on the “fruits” of the Garda investigation. Munro also raised the issue that French authorities did not seek to invite Mr. Bailey to attend his trial in 2019, and his lawyer, Frank Buttimer, was not invited either. The lawyer said it sounded strange and described it as an “unusual feature” of the trial.

Munro asked why the 2017 lawsuit was started when it must be obvious to a competent lawyer that the Supreme Court had blocked the way. “If there has been no abuse of process in the past, this is clearly relevant to this third set of proceedings,” he said.

Counsel relied on the 2012 Minister of Justice Supreme Court case against Tobin, where he said that the finality of the proceedings was of fundamental importance to the administration of justice and that the courts ensure that there is no abuse in this regard.

In conclusion, Mr. Munro said that the only law mentioned in this case – the 2019 Criminal Law Act – was a flaw in the wind and that this law “was blowing in the wind”. Mr. Bailey’s stated right under section 44 prohibits his surrender to France, and nothing that has happened since then has nearly prohibited this right, he said.

French authorities previously requested the surrender of Mr. Bailey in 2010, but that request was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2012, which held that section 44 prohibited surrender because the alleged offense was committed outside French territory and Irish law did not allow prosecution for the same offense. when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

A second French extradition request against Mr. Bailey was dismissed as an “abuse of process” by the High Court in July 2017. On this occasion, Judge Tony Hunt held that the “unique characteristics” of the ‘case justified the’ termination ‘of the proceedings. He stated that the Minister was “prevented” or prevented from obtaining a surrender order from Mr. Bailey in light of the 2012 Supreme Court judgment on identical relevant facts.

Mr. Bailey and filmmaker Jim Sheridan were in court for today’s hearing.

Mr. Munro will continue his observations when the extradition hearing continues tomorrow (Thursday) before Justice Burns. It should last three days.

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