DUBLIN (Reuters) - A former British journalist won an appeal at the Irish Supreme Court Thursday against extradition to France in connection with the killing of a French film producer, on the grounds that the crime took place in Ireland.
Ian Bailey had faced a possible trial in France over the violent murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in southern Ireland 16 years ago after he lost a legal battle against the extradition in an Irish high court last March. He has denied any involvement in the case.
Chief Justice Susan Denham said Bailey could not be surrendered because the murder of the 39-year-old socialite was committed outside French territory.
She said the French authorities had not yet decided whether they wanted to try Bailey, who has been arrested twice in Ireland but never charged in relation to the murder.
"I'm relieved this part of the proceedings is over," Bailey told journalists outside the court. "You wouldn't believe the hell we have been put through by this awfulness."
Toscan Du Plantier, whose husband Daniel was also a producer and worked with renowned film-makers including Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman, was killed while on holiday in the small coastal village of Schull, in southwestern Ireland, in December 1996.
Her murder shocked Ireland and cast a shadow over the idyllic rural setting of Schull, a popular hideaway for wealthy English, French, and German expatriates.
Reporting by Sarah O'Connor; Writing by Conor Humphries and Lorraine Turner; Editing by Karolina Tagaris