BARRY ROCHE Southern Correspondent
THE DECISION by French authorities to seek the extradition of Ian Bailey in connection with the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier is based on a number of factors, including Mr Bailey’s behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the killing, The Irish Times has learned.
It is understood that investigating magistrate Judge Patrick Gachon has based his decision to issue a European arrest warrant for Mr Bailey on three distinct grounds, following a close examination of the Garda file on the killing and affidavits sworn by Garda witnesses.
Judge Gachon believes Mr Bailey has a case to answer on the basis that he knew certain details about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home in Toormore near Schull in 1996 prior to these details being confirmed by the police.
It is also understood that Judge Gachon is of the view that Mr Bailey’s statements that he suffered scratches to his face and arms while killing turkeys and cutting down a Christmas tree on the day before Ms Toscan du Plantier was killed do not stand up to close scrutiny.
Judge Gachon also believes that there is sufficient evidence on the Garda file to suggest that Mr Bailey was not at his home at Liscaha, Schull, for the entirety of the night of December 22nd/December 23rd, 1996, when Ms Toscan du Plantier was killed.
Judge Gachon has spent 12 months examining the Garda file, which includes statements from over 240 witnesses as well as a review of the Garda handling of the original investigation, while he also heard evidence from two officers who were centrally involved in the investigation.
Supt Liam Horgan, who is heading the Garda investigation into the killing and who was a liaison officer with Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family, and Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald spent three days giving evidence before Judge Gachon last November.
Mr Bailey, who was arrested on foot of the European arrest warrant at his home in Schull late last Friday night and brought before the High Court in Dublin on Saturday, has stated in court that he believes the warrant is based on false information.
His solicitor Frank Buttimer has indicated that his client will fully contest the warrant in the High Court and that if he loses that decision he will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, as he believes it raises broader constitutional issues.
Mr Bailey, who was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier and was twice released without charge, hasconsistently protested his innocence and denied any involvement in the killing.
Ms Toscan du Plantier’s mother, Marguerite Bouniol, has welcomed the issuing of the European arrest warrant by Judge Gachon and said the family was hopeful that Mr Bailey would be extradited to France to allow Judge Gachon progress his inquiry into the murder.
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