Ian Bailey, convicted in absentia for 1996 French film producer’s murder, dies

DUBLIN (Reuters) -British journalist Ian Bailey, chief suspect in the 1996 murder of a French film producer in Ireland that triggered an extradition battle between the countries, died on Sunday of a suspected heart attack, his solicitor said.

Bailey was sentenced in absentia to 25 years in jail by a French court in 2019 for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, whose battered body was found while she was on holiday in the Irish coastal village of Schull in December 1996.

He always denied the crime, and Irish authorities never prosecuted him. The Irish courts in 2020 blocked for a third time his extradition to France, where the law allows suspects to be tried for murdering French citizens abroad.

The murder was in recent years the subject of a popular podcast and two television documentary series, one produced by Netflix and another by Academy Award nominated director Jim Sheridan.

Bailey, 66, became a suspect after speaking to others about the killing after it took place.

Toscan du Plantier’s husband, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, was a leading producer and worked with renowned filmmakers including Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman.

Bailey died in the coastal town of Bantry, where Irish media said he was living.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Conor Humphries)