Djibouti's ICJ case against France over Borrel death opens

22nd January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Djibouti accused former colonial ruler of having refused to share information in its investigation of the alleged 1995 murder of a French judge

   THE HAGUE, January 22, 2008 - Djibouti accused former colonial ruler
France at the International Court of Justice Monday of having refused to share
information in its investigation of the alleged 1995 murder of a French judge.
   But observers are waiting to see if either country tries to broaden out the
dispute over this relatively obscure legal point to shed light on the
circumstances surrounding judge Bernard Borrel's mysterious death.
   Djibouti has already protested over the fact that the country's president,
Ismael Omar Guelleh, has been called as a witness in the case, which is being
heard at the UN's highest court.
   Djibouti ambassador Siad Mohamed Doualeh told the court during the opening
hearing that by keeping back information concerning the death of judge Bernard
Borrel, France had broken an agreement on cooperation in legal 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 had apparently
been killed by a shot to the head.
   While the authorities in Djibouti suggested his death had been a suicide,
French magistrates investigating at the request of Borrel's widow found that
the judge could have been murdered.
   Elisabeth Borrel, who was present at Monday's hearing, believes her husband
was killed by Djibouti agents and that France helped the Djibouti authorities
to cover up the crime.
   In 2006, a French court issued international arrest warrants 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 asked the court to withdraw those
arrest warrants, arguing the men are internationally protected Djibouti
nationals. Both Souleiman and Said are close to President Guelleh.
   While France has agreed to let the ICJ hear the case, it does not recognise
its competence in the question of the legal cooperation agreements between the
two countries, which date back to 1977 and 1986.


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