High Court says Ian Bailey cannot be extradited to France for murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier


Updated 1 hour ago

A THIRD ATTEMPT to extradite Ian Bailey to France, where he faces a 25-year prison sentence for the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier, has failed after a High Court judge today refused to ‘order its surrender.

High Court Judge Paul Burns today delivered his judgment dismissing Bailey’s extradition request from the state, ruling that both his analysis of Article 44 of the European Arrest Warrant and the estoppel question [a legal principle that prevents someone from arguing something or asserting a right that contradicts what they previously said or agreed to by law] prevented him from surrendering.

Bailey (63) was arrested at the courthouse in December 2019, following a European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by the French authorities. He was remanded in custody after a High Court judge later approved what was the third EAW requesting his extradition to France.

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

The French authorities had previously requested the surrender of Bailey in 2010.

The High Court ordered his extradition, but that decision was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2012, which ruled that section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 prohibited surrender because the alleged offense had been committed outside French territory and that Irish law did not permit prosecution for the same offense committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

Bailey is a British citizen.

A second French extradition request against Bailey was rejected as an “abuse of process” by the High Court in July 2017.

On this occasion, Judge Tony Hunt considered that the “unique characteristics” of the case justified the “closure” of the proceedings. He said the minister was “estopped” or prevented from obtaining a surrender order from 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, made up of three judges, in Paris, sentenced Mr. Bailey to 25 years in prison in his absence. Bailey, who denies any involvement in du Plantier’s death, did not appear in French court and was not represented by a lawyer in the proceedings, which he called a “farce”.

The Englishman had challenged his surrender during a three-day extradition hearing before the High Court last July, his lawyers arguing that a request to extradite their client to France for the third time was “an abuse of procedure ”.

Legal argument

Opposing a request to surrender Bailey to France, Ronan Munro SC argued that Bailey had an “unshakeable and absolute right” not to be surrendered to France, which had not been threatened in any way by the further developments of the law.

The lawyer said there was a binding Supreme Court ruling in 2012 banning the surrender of Mr Bailey on the basis of section 44 of the European arrest warrant act 2003, which has remained intact and intact.

In addition, the Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act 2019 did not materially affect the Supreme Court ruling in 2012 and therefore the High Court was bound by this, Munro said.

Bailey’s legal team had also opposed the Englishman’s surrender due to the state’s lack of recourse against the High Court’s decision not to extradite the defendant to France in 2017, this which they said created “an estoppel problem”. [a legal principle that prevents someone from arguing something or asserting a right that contradicts what they previously said or agreed to by law].

David Conlan Smyth SC, also for Bailey, called on the court to find that there had been “disproportionate, excessive and culpable delay” by the issuing state in bringing the former journalist to justice, which , according to him, remained unexplained.

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The lawyer pointed out that 24 years had passed since the opening of the criminal investigation and seven years after the request had been rejected by the Supreme Court.

“At what point does the EAW become so oppressive and burdensome that there is a violation of the fair trial rights of Article 6? We say that this date has passed for a long time, ”he said.

‘A haven of peace’

In response, attorney for Justice Minister Robert Barron SC said that “in a bizarre way” Ireland had become a “safe haven” for Bailey as he could not travel anywhere outside of Ireland. the European Union on pain of arrest.

He said the Plantier family felt they had not obtained justice and that the High Court had a “prima facie” obligation to hand over the Englishman, suspected for 24 years of having killed the mother of a child, to the France.

The Irish High Court was unsure what evidence would be available to French authorities in the event of a new trial for Bailey in France and what questions might arise, argued Mr Barron.

Bailey was in court today for the hearing and made no reaction when judgment was rendered.

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