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CRIME

British man to go on trial in France over murder in Ireland in 1996

Twenty-two years after the savage murder of the wife of a celebrated French film producer in Ireland, a trial gets under way in Paris on Monday, but with the British suspect absent and unrepresented.

British man to go on trial in France over murder in Ireland in 1996
Sophie Toscan du Plantier was beaten to death in her holiday home in Ireland. Photo: AFP

Ian Bailey, a 62-year-old former freelance journalist, denies killing Sophie Toscan du Plantier on December 23 1996, and “will not be present, or represented” in court on Monday, his lawyers Dominique Tricaud and Franck Buttimer told reporters.

The Irish government has refused to extradite Bailey, who will therefore be judged in absentia.

The parents, son and other people close to the victim, will however be present for the trial.

Ian Bailey will not be in France for the trial. Photo: AFP

Toscan du Plantier, who was the 39-year-old wife of film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was found beaten to death at her holiday home in County Cork in southwest Ireland. Injuries to her hands showed that she had struggled to defend herself.

Near her body was found a large rock and bloodstained concrete block.

Bailey has long lived in Ireland near the home where she was staying. He was twice arrested for questioning by Irish police but never charged.

“This case, even in the absence of the accused, will take place and the work of justice will be done,” said Marie Dose, a lawyer for the family

The victim's husband Daniel Toscan du Plantier, former director-general of the Gaumont Film Company, died in 2003.

Despite the lack of Bailey's DNA at the scene of the crime, the British man soon became the main suspect, partly due to scratches on his arms and forehead which he attributed to dealing with a Christmas tree and cutting up a turkey for dinner.

French authorities issued warrants for Bailey's arrest in 2010 and 2016, but Dublin refused both requests, citing the lack of a reciprocal extradition deal between the two countries.

If found guilty Bailey could face a 30-year jail sentence and France could again seek his extradition which would then be “difficult to refuse”, said 
Dose.

On the basis that Irish justice has found no case against Bailey, who these days sells pizzas in the southwest Ireland village of Schull where the murder occurred, his lawyers spoke of “a judicial error” in France, adding that their client had “already been condemned” there.

For the family's lawyer Dose, Bailey is staying away from the French court “because he is afraid of being sentenced and with good reason”.

The verdict in the case is expected to be handed down on Friday.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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