By MARY CAROLAN
The High Court has reserved judgment on whether to allow journalist Ian Bailey appeal his extradition to France to the Supreme Court.
French police want to interview Mr Bailey in connection with the killing of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Co Cork some 14 years ago.
Mr Justice Michael Peart said he would rule on whether to certify the case for appeal on April 13th next and remanded Mr Bailey on continuing bail.
Mr Bailey was in court today when his lawyers argued the High Court decision clearing the way for his extradition raised points of law of exceptional public importance requiring certification to the Supreme Court.
Martin Giblin SC, for Mr Bailey, argued the High Court decision was of unprecedented importance not just for Mr Bailey. It had potential implications for other cases involving Irish citizens who might, for example, find themselves involved in incidents where French citizens were injured in road traffic crashes or in incidents arising from “Thierry Henry” type behaviour at football matches.
Counsel also said the Irish courts should reflect on the nature of the obligation set out in the European Framework Decision on extradition to treat other European jurisdictions with respect and criticised the conduct of France in Africa and other areas. He also argued Irish citizens had not been treated fairly by the French authorities in previous situations.
The French extra-territorial jurisdiction is very extensive and the Irish courts should scrutinise it carefully, he said. The right to silence was, for example, a “different creature” in France than in Ireland.
Mr Giblin also submitted there was “dirty linen” in this case arising from the conduct of the Garda investigation, which the French legal system would be unable to address.
It was also argued the case raised a point related to whether, even if it was assumed Mr Bailey would receive a fair trial, the circumstances of this case made the very act of surrender itself oppressive and an abuse of process.
Under the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, an appeal against an extradition order may only be brought if the High Court certifies the case raises points of law of such exceptional importance the public interest requires those points should be determined by the Supreme Court.
Unless overturned by the Supreme Court, the High Court decision leaves it to the French authorities to decide whether or not Mr Bailey is prosecuted in connection with the death of Ms du Plantier.
Mr Bailey (53), The Prairie, Schull, Co Cork, has always denied any involvement in the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier (39), whose body was discovered near her holiday home in Schull on December 23rd, 1996. He was arrested by investigating gardai and the DPP found no basis to charge him but the French authorities subsequently sought his extradition.
In his decision permitting Mr Bailey’s extradition, Mr Justice Peart found the warrant issued by the French authorities clearly stated its purpose was to “prosecute” Mr Bailey as required under the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, did not state the purpose was “investigation” and indicated the French view was that there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr Bailey.
The EAW set out the evidence available to the French authorities and stated, during the Garda investigation here, “serious and convincing clues” were accumulated against Mr Bailey “of such a nature as to justify that he be charged”, the judge said. The issuing of the warrant indicated, in the opinion of the French authorities, there was “under French law” sufficient evidence to charge Mr Bailey.
The French procedure requires Mr Bailey to be brought before an examining magistrate and given the opportunity to respond to the evidence before any decision is made whether to put him on trial or not, the judge outlined. The fact a decision may be made not to try him at the end of that procedure did not entitle Mr Bailey to an order preventing his surrender.