High Court rejects Ian Bailey’s extradition request to France

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The High Court ruled that Ian Bailey could not be extradited to France to serve a 25-year prison sentence imposed on him by a French court for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork ago 24 years.

Judge Paul Burns delivered his judgment on Monday dismissing the state’s request for the extradition of Mr Bailey, stating that his surrender remained excluded under section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003.

The judge also found that the delivery of the Englishman had been prevented because of an “acquired or acquired right” on the part of Mr. Bailey “for the benefit of previous court decisions refusing such delivery”.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, found murdered in West Cork in 1996.

Speaking in criminal courts following the judgment, Mr Bailey’s lawyer Frank Buttimer said his client was “extremely relieved” by the decision and the impact on his life over the past 24 years had been “extremely difficult”.

Mr. Bailey (63) was arrested at the Criminal Justice Palace in December 2019, following a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the French authorities.

It was the third attempt by French authorities to seek the surrender of Mr Bailey in connection with the death of Ms du Plantier, whose severely beaten body was found outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.

court Suprème

The French authorities had previously requested the surrender of Mr Bailey in 2010. The High Court ordered his extradition, but this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2012, which ruled that section 44 of the 2003 law on the European arrest warrant prohibited surrender because the alleged offense had been committed outside French territory and Irish law did not allow prosecution for the same offense committed outside its territory by a non-Irish national. Mr. Bailey is a British citizen.

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

The former journalist, with a speech at The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, West Cork, was found guilty of murdering the Frenchwoman in her absence by a Paris court in May 2019. The Assize Court, with three judges, in Paris therefore sentenced Mr. Bailey to 25 years in prison in his absence. Mr Bailey, who denies any involvement in Ms du Plantier’s death, did not appear in French court and was not represented by a lawyer in the proceedings, which he described as a “farce”.

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