Djibouti leader to escapeFrench judge 'murder' quiz

10th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 9 (AFP) - Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh, wanted for questioning in connection with the death of a French judge in 1995, will have diplomatic immunity when he visits France this weekend, officials said Monday.

PARIS, Aug 9 (AFP) - Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh, wanted for questioning in connection with the death of a French judge in 1995, will have diplomatic immunity when he visits France this weekend, officials said Monday.  

"Every foreign head of state visiting France has diplomatic immunity," French foreign ministry spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo told a press conference. "It's a fundamental principle of international law."  

Guelleh will be in southern France at the weekend to attend ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Allied landings in Provence, in which soldiers from Djibouti, a former French colony in east Africa, participated.  

Lawyers for the widow of French judge Bernard Borrel, who died in suspicious circumstances in 1995 in Djibouti, want to question Guelleh about the judge's demise, sources close to the investigation said.  

Borrel, whose charred remains were found near the capital Djibouti, was initially thought to have committed suicide, but experts have now suggested to French magistrates looking into the case that Borrel may have been murdered.  

Earlier this year, declassified documents from France's foreign intelligence service DGSE revealed that two witnesses told French agents that Borrel had been assassinated for political reasons on the orders of Guelleh's entourage.  

At the time of Borrel's death, Guelleh was then president Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff.  

The witnesses said Borrel - who had been advising Djibouti's justice ministry - allegedly had evidence that suggested Guelleh's involvement in either arms trafficking or in a 1990 attack on a Djibouti restaurant.  

Pozzo di Borgo said authorities in Djibouti have fully cooperated with French judicial authorities with respect to the ongoing probe.  

Last month, French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the two countries were "engaged in solid, serene, lasting cooperation" that was "beneficial to both sides".   Djibouti is currently host to France's largest military base in Africa, with some 2,800 personnel.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

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