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New judge in Sophie probe no stranger to high profile cases

January 19th, 2016 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

French judge Nathalie Turquey has been appointed to head up the investigation. (Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images)

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FRENCH authorities investigating the murder of film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork almost 20 years ago have appointed a new magistrate who previously headed up one of France’s most high profile homicide inquiries.

Judge Nathalie Turquey was confirmed this week as the judge who would head up the investigation into the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in Toormore near Schull in December 1996 after the previous investigator, Judge Patrick Gachon, was promoted.

Judge Gachon led the investigation for the past seven years and in December he sent his file on the killing to the public prosecutor for Paris, Francois Molins, who will advise on whether he believes there is sufficient evidence in Judge Gachon’s file to warrant a prosecution.

However, it will be Judge Turquey who will now receive the advice from Mr Molins later this year after he studies the 17-volume file which includes interviews which French police conducted with over 30 witnesses during visits to West Cork in 2011 and again in 2015.

Meanwhile lawyer, Alain Spilliaert, who acts for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s elderly parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, welcomed the appointment of Judge Turquey to head up the investigation.

 ‘Nathalie Turquey is in her 40s and is a very experienced magistrate who has investigated many high profile cases here in France, so she is a very good choice to replace Judge Gachon who led the investigation for the past seven years,’ said Mr Spilliaert.

Among the high profile cases which Judge Turquey successfully investigated was the killing of acclaimed French film actress, Marie Trintignant (41) by her husband, rock singer, Bertrand Cantat in 2003.

The couple had been in Vilnius in Lithuania where Ms Trintignant was shooting a film about the early life of the writer, Colette, when she and Cantat has a row on July 26th 2003 and the media reported that she fell and hit her head against a wall and went into a coma.

Ms Trintignant underwent surgery in Vilnius but failed to regain consciousness and was brought back to hospital in Paris where she died on August 8th, with Judge Turquey being appointed immediately to investigate the circumstances of her death.

Later that year, Cantat, lead singer with the French band, Noir Désir, was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of Ms Trintignant and served a four-year jail sentence – all stemming from Judge Turquey’s investigation of the killing.

According to Mr Spilliaert, Judge Turquey is a very thorough investigator and her investigation of the death of Ms Trintignant has given her experience in investigating the death of a French citizen outside of France.

‘The Trintignant case had huge profile here because, not only was Marie Trintignant a well known actress, she was the daughter of actor, Jean-LouisTrintignant, and Bertrand Cantat was a leading rock star,but Judge Turquey did a good job in the full glare of the media spotlight.’

Mr Spilliaert said that Judge Turquey is involved in a number of other important cases in France at the moment, but he expects that she will familiarise herself with Judge Gachon’s file on Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder over the coming weeks.

He said that he hoped to meet with her to discuss the case and brief Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son, Pierre Louise Baudey-Vignaud, on developments as they are anxious to progress the matter as quickly as possible.

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