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France 'Will Not Intimidate Us'

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Djibouti, October 4, 2006 – A tiny Read Sea state said it would not be "intimidated" by arrest warrants for two top officials issued by a French court probing the death of a French judge in Djibouti 11 years ago.

The former French colony said late on Tuesday that the warrants would not stop its attorney general Djama Suleiman, one of those for whom a warrant was issued, from going to the world court this month to pursue its case against France in the matter.

Government spokesperson Ali Abdi Farah said Djibouti was committed to resolving the matter of the death of French judge Bernard Borrel, who died in suspicious circumstances in Djibouti in 1995, before the International Court of Justice.

He said: "Djibouti will not be intimidated by an operation intended to prevent the attorney general from going to The Hague on October 16."

Court issues arrest warrant for Suleiman

"Djibouti will not yield to any threat and its attorney general ... will go to The Hague to plead (our) innocence and prove we will deal transparently with the Borrel matter before a neutral, third party.

"The Republic of Djibouti ... is committed to having full light shed on this affair and will not react to the provocation of certain French magistrates."

On Sunday, French judicial officials said a court in Versailles had issued arrest warrants for Suleiman and Djibouti's security chief Hassan Said as part of an investigation into alleged witness tampering in the Borrel case.

A day later, Said said Djibouti would "never bow" in the matter to the French judiciary, with which he said his country no longer had confidence.

Case 'soured France, Djibouti ties'

There had been allegations of official complicity in the death of Borrel, an advisor to Djibouti's justice ministry whose charred body was found clad only in a T-shirt and underpants in a ravine near the capital with an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

While initially explained away as a suicide, French magistrates investigating at the request of Borrel's widow, Elisabeth, found that the death might have been a murder and were looking at the possibility of a cover up.

French judicial sources said the warrants were issued as Suleiman was suspected of trying to pressure a key witness in the case to withdraw his testimony, while Said allegedly sought ways to discredit the same witness.

The case had soured ties between France and its former colony, which was home to the largest overseas French military base.

Last October, after a French judge called Said and Suleiman for questioning - a summons they ignored - Djibouti halted all judicial co-operation with France.

In January, Djibouti filed suit against France at the ICJ in The Hague, claiming Paris had failed to pass on details of its investigations into Borrel's alleged murder.

Source: AFP


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