Belfast Telegraph

Probe into handling of murder case

An investigation in to handling of the Sophie Toscan Du Plantier murder case has been launched by the Garda Ombudsman.

Ian Bailey lodged a complaint with the force watchdog in December just weeks after new files claimed the 15-year-old Garda investigation was flawed.

The one-time murder suspect, who was arrested and questioned twice by investigators, won a two-year legal challenge against his extradition to France for questioning.

His complaint focuses on recently released documents which included a 44-page critical review of the conduct of the murder investigation and the reasons why the former director of public prosecutions (DPP) decided not to prosecute.

The Department of Justice said once the existence of the 2001 review was brought to the attention of the Attorney General, Marie Whelan, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter, the documents were given to the solicitors and counsel representing all sides in the extradition proceedings, including the French authorities.

The material also questioned the credibility of several key witnesses and alleged an unnamed senior garda or gardai tried to get the former state solicitor for West Cork to put political pressure on the DPP to prosecute Mr Bailey.

Former DPP Eamon Barnes described the garda investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier as flawed and prejudiced, and the attempt by gardai to get a direction from the DPP's office to prosecute as grossly improper.

Mr Bailey's solicitor Frank Buttimer said had been surprised by political silence surrounding the documents, which have formed the basis of a complaint made to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission. The watchdog has extended its six-month time limit to examine a case and initiated an investigation.

Mr Bailey, 54, is also taking legal action against the state for wrongful arrest.

Ms Toscan du Plantier, 39, was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas 1996.

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