DUBLIN (Reuters) – An Irish court ordered British journalist Ian Bailey to face an extradition hearing in connection with his conviction in France for murdering a French film producer in Ireland 23 years ago.

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

He has always denied the crime and Irish authorities have never prosecuted him for it. Irish courts have previously blocked his extradition to France, where the law allows suspects to be tried for murdering French citizens abroad.

Bailey was ordered arrested on Monday by the Irish High Court, then immediately released on bail. The court ordered him to appear for an extradition hearing on Jan. 20.

Bailey did not address the court, but told Reuters inside the courtroom that he was glad he was there when his arrest was ordered, so that he could avoid being arrested at home. He said his legal team would challenge the warrant.

The police sergeant who carried out the arrest told the court Bailey had told him: “I just want to say I had nothing to do with this crime.”

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Graff