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French Ambassador says murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier holds ‘specific Irish fascination’

The French Ambassador to Ireland, Vincent Guérend, has spoken for the first time about the murder

Sophie Toscan Du Plantier

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

French ambassador Vincent Guérend

Niamh HoranSunday Independent

The French Ambassador to Ireland, Vincent Guérend, has spoken for the first time about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Speaking to the Sunday Independentthis weekend, Mr Guérend said the Irish have a “specific fascination” with the case, which has not been replicated in her home country in France.

The ambassador, appointed by President Emmanuel Macron in September 2020, said “frankly speaking” there is not as much interest in France in the unsolved murder of the 39-year-old mother of one as there is in Ireland.

“It’s not that she was not known in France, I remember myself when she died. I was 25 years old or so and it made the headlines in the French news, but there has been far less attention to this case in France, other than the fact her husband Mr Toscan du Plantier passed away a few years ago,” he said.

“I wouldn’t know why, just that there is far less attention.”

French ambassador Vincent Guérend

Mr Guérend said that in France the murder — which occurred on December 23, 1996 — is “viewed as a very, very old case and most young people wouldn’t know about it”, adding: “There seems to be a specific Irish fascination with this case.”

He has not watched the recent high-profile documentaries on the unsolved murder but said he could understand why the Irish are “very impatient” to discover the identity of her killer.

On why the case continues to resonate with so many people here after 25 years, he said: “Firstly she was a young, very glamorous, good-looking woman who was married to a French filmmaker, living in a very nice part of Ireland in West Cork. So it was her personal traits to begin with.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

“Secondly, I think it was the whole location of the crime — a beautiful place in summer but in the winter and early mornings it was very sinister, especially where her remains were found.

“Thirdly, I think the fact that all of this happened so tragically at Christmas resonated with people. Finally, I think it’s due to the fact that it’s been so difficult to establish the truth. The whole mystery around it, the fascination with it, sadly for her family, makes it a never-ending story.”

Asked if he was happy that the cold case has been re-opened, Mr Guérend said he did not wish to make a personal comment, but added: “We trust An Garda Síochána to do their job and if they see a hope that they can cast more light on this then we are very willing to co-operate, of course, if there is anything the French police can do. So let’s hope for the best.”

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