Irish Times

Bailey decision due next month

A High Court judge will give his decision next month whether to extradite journalist Ian Bailey to France over the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Co Cork 14 years ago.

Mr Bailey (53), The Prairie, Schull, Co Cork, was in court today when Mr Justice Michael Peart heard final legal submissions on the extradition proceedings.

Mr Bailey has always denied any involvement in the killing of Ms Toscan du Plantier (39), a French filmmaker whose body was discovered near her holiday home in Schull on December 23rd, 1996.

Mr Bailey was arrested by gardaĆ­ investigating the killing and no charges were ever preferred against him but the French authorities are seeking his extradition.

Today, Mr Justice Peart heard submissions related to a recent judgement of the Supreme Court ordering the extradition of a Swedish man, Thomas Olsson, arrested here in 2008 under a 2006 European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in relation to four offences of organised or armed robbery and arson in Sweden.

Mr Olsson’s appeal against extradition centred on two issues: the nature of the legal assistance available to him; and his claim a “decision” to charge him with, and try him for, the offences as stated in the EAW was not made as required by the EAW Act 2003.

On the second argument, no “decision” was made by the Swedish authorities to prosecute Mr Olsson, the Supreme Court said there was a clear intention by the Swedish authorities to bring proceedings against Mr Olsson.

While a decision to prosecute must have been made at the date of issue of an EAW, it need not be a final decision, it said. The EAW Act did not intend words such as “charge” or “prosecution” should only be understood as meaning a charge or prosecution as in the Irish criminal justice system, it added.

It was clear Mr Olsson was sought for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution and Sweden intended to bring proceedings against him, the court said. It would be entirely within the European Framework Decision related to extradition and the 2003 Act if, after further investigation, the Swedish authorities decided not to prosecute as there would still have been a decision to prosecute when the EAW was executed.

Today, Ronan Munro, for Mr Bailey, said a decision to charge and try his client was required under the EAW Act 2003 but there was no such decision here. There could be no surrender of a person for the purposes of investigation and it was not permissible to send Mr Bailey back to France “just to ask him some questions”.

The Olsson case was “clearly distinguishable” as there was sworn evidence to contradict claims there was no “decision” to try Mr Olsson but no such evidence here, counsel said.

This case should also be assessed on its exceptional facts as it was known and accepted, after an exhaustive investigation here, there was no evidence on which Mr Bailey could be charged, counsel said.

After submissions concluded, Mr Justice Peart reserved judgment to March 18th.

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