Monday, January 21, 2008

UN court to hear Djibouti's claims over French judge's death

THE HAGUE (AFP) — The United Nations' highest court will take up Monday a complaint by Djibouti that France violated an agreement by not passing on details of its probe into the alleged 1995 murder of a French judge.

The case of judge Bernard Borrel's death in Djibouti has strained relations between France and its former African colony which is home to France's largest military base abroad.
The International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, will not go into the circumstances of Borrel's death but instead focus on Djibouti's complaint that France did not hand over the Borrel case files when asked.

According to the Red Sea state, France's refusal to release the files violates a 1986 agreement between the two countries about mutual assistance in criminal matters.

The charred body of the judge, who had been advising Djibouti's justice ministry, was found in a ravine near the capital in 1995. He was apparently killed by a shot to the head.

While initially explained away as a suicide, French magistrates investigating at the request of Borrel's widow found that the death may well have been a case of murder.

His widow Elisabeth Borrel believes her husband was killed by Djibouti agents and that France helped the Djibouti authorities to cover up the crime. Djibouti maintains his death was a suicide.
A French court issued international arrest warrants in 2006 for Djibouti's chief prosecutor Djama Souleiman and the head of the country's secret service, Hassan Said.

In its complaint to the ICJ, Djibouti has also asked the court to withdraw those arrest warrants, arguing the men are internationally protected Djibouti nationals. Both Souleiman and Said are close to President Ismael Omar Guelleh.

Source: AFP

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