Sophie Toscan Du Plantier
by Louise Cunningham
A new chapter has just begun in the seemingly stalled investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier over a decade ago. The 39-year-old wife of film producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier was found battered to death near her holiday home in Toormore, county Cork, on 23rd December 1996, but no-one was ever charged with her murder.
Now, on the order of French judge Patrick Gachon, her remains, buried at Mauvezin in south-west France, have been exhumed in order to allow new DNA and forensic tests to take place. Her family say this is the first step in a legal campaign that they hope will result in the extradition and prosecution in France of her killer.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier had been in Ireland just four days at her holiday home in the countryside near Schull in south-west Cork, when her body was found on the road near her house. The Gardai believed she had opened the door to her attacker and subsequently attempted to escape from them. She had suffered brutal head injuries. There was only one suspect ever named: English journalist Ian Bailey, who lived nearby and who also reported on the murder, was twice questioned by Gardai. He has always protested his innocence and reiterated this when news of the exhumation order was recently released. He was involved in a lengthy libel suit against five Irish and British newspaper groups, claiming they had branded him as the killer, but after 8 years and 2 trials, withdrew his action in February 2007.
This new investigation follows years of campaigning by the victim’s family and by the 200 -member Assoph group (“l'Association pour la vérité sur l'assassinat de Sophie Toscan du Plantier”) formed last year with her uncle at its head. Her parents have visited Ireland every year since her death and are campaigning for harmonisation of victims’ rights across the EU. The group has been in contact with both Nicolas Sarkozy and the Irish government in its battle for closure and only this year gained access to the original pathologist’s report. While Gardai insisted the file remained open they had never obtained sufficient evidence for a conviction. They said that they were storing evidence in the hope that future improvements in DNA testing could shed new light on the case. Perhaps soon this will finally be achieved.
To understand :
Association pour la vérité sur l'assassinat de Sophie Toscan du Plantier : Assoph.free.fr
L’assassinat de Sophie Toscan du Plantier, née Sophie Bouniol : onze ans de manquements et de dénis de justice de Marie-Victoire Louis: www.marievictoirelouis.net
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