Europe

Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son in murder witness plea

Ms Toscan du Plantier's son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud (L) and her brother Bertrand Bouniol Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Ms Toscan du Plantier's son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud (l) and her brother Bertrand Bouniol in Cork this weekend

The son of a murdered French film producer has appealed for witnesses to come forward and give evidence in the trial of a British man accused of killing her.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death near her cottage in Schull, County Cork, in December 1996.

Ian Bailey, a neighbour of the victim, was arrested in Ireland over her killing but was never charged.

In 2016, a magistrate in France decided he should stand trial there.

That trial is due to begin in Paris on 27 May. There will be no jury because the trial will be taking place in Mr Bailey's absence.

Mr Bailey, a journalist who is originally from Manchester, has consistently denied involvement in the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A lawyer representing Mr Bailey, pictured above, dismissed the proceedings as a show trial

On Sunday, Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud attended a memorial Mass near his mother's holiday home in west Cork.

He appealed to anyone who had received requests from the magistrates in France to come forward.

Asked what the upcoming trial meant to him and his family, he said he simply wanted justice to be done and that the trial was necessary.

In a statement addressing the Cork community, Mr Baudey-Vignaud said: "In France, in two week's time, our history is at stake.

"It's the story of my mother's death and the story of a woman who needed you so much to recharge her batteries.

"I still come back here every year because it is the only way for me to defy this violence and destroy it.

"For 20 years, I've trusted you. Don't betray me. Don't betray yourself."

'Show trial'

A lawyer representing Mr Bailey has dismissed the proceedings as a show trial and claims they are invalid.

Frank Buttimer said Mr Bailey would not be presenting himself for trial in Paris and would not be mounting a defence. Neither will he be legally represented.

Evidence will be presented to three professional judges and the family's legal representative will be entitled to question witnesses.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death near her cottage County Cork in 1996

Mr Buttimer, who has represented Mr Bailey for most of the past 23 years since the murder, said Mr Bailey was being "subjected to a living nightmare, from which he cannot escape".

"He has been entirely exonerated in this country," he said.

"The Director of Public Prosecutions has long since decided that there is no evidence upon which he can be put on trial.

"The French have decided that the exact same evidence is sufficient to put him on trial."

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