France tries British suspect in absentia over 1996 murder of film producer | News | DW | 27.05.2019
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France tries British suspect in absentia over 1996 murder of film producer

The murder trial of a Briton accused of murdering a French film producer in Ireland in 1996 is opening in Paris. The suspect is to be judged in absentia after Ireland ruled against his extradition.

A Paris court will on Monday begin hearing a trial in the murder case of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose battered body was found near her holiday home in County Cork in southwest Ireland 22 years ago.

The suspect in the trial, Briton Ian Bailey, a 62-year-old former freelance journalist and poet (top photo), will not attend proceedings or be represented at the trial, after the Irish government refused France's demands to extradite him.  

Bailey, who has long lived in the coastal village of Schull where the murder took place, was twice arrested for questioning by Irish police over the brutal killing, but never charged.

Read more: How does Germany choose its judges? Always the best pick? 

Suspicious scratches

Sophie Toscan du Plantier, who was the wife of celebrated late French film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was 39 when she was beaten to death in December 1996. A large rock and a bloodstained concrete breeze block were found near her body, which showed signs that she had struggled to defend herself.

Bailey became the main suspect partly because of scratches on his arms and forehead, which he said had come from dealing with a Christmas tree and cutting up a turkey. His DNA was not found at the scene of the crime.

His lawyers have spoken of a "judicial error" in France and said his abrasive personality had played a role in his coming under suspicion. His French lawyer, Dominique Tricaud, told journalists in Paris there was no doubt Bailey was an innocent man.

The lawyer for Toscan du Plantier's family, however, said Bailey, who now sells pizzas in Schull, was not attending the trial "because he is afraid of being sentenced, and with good reason."

A verdict from the court is expected on Friday.

tj/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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