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French Court Orders Arrest of Two Djibouti Officials


A senior official from Djibouti said Monday its authorities will not comply with arrests warrants issued by a French court against the country's top prosecutor and the head of its secret service. The warrants are linked to the mysterious death of a French judge more than a decade ago.

Djibouti authorities initially called his 1995 death a suicide. But the widow of French judge Bernard Borrel, whose charred and almost naked body was found in a ravine near the African capital, argues he was assassinated.

Now, more than 10 years after the event, a court in the Paris suburb of Versailles has issued arrest warrants for two very senior officials in Djibouti: top prosecutor Djama Suleiman and security chief Hassan Said.

On Monday, Said told the agence France-Presse news agency that the country would not bow to French justice, which, he said, Djibouti has lost confidence in. He said only the countrys tribunal could rule on the matter.

But in France, Olivier Maurice, the lawyer for Borrels widow, hailed the French courts decision.

Maurice told France Info radio that the courts decision marked a big victory for Borrel. For several years, he said, "we have been saying that Bernard Borrel was assassinated" He said by issuing the two arrests against men close to the president of Djibouti, Frances justice system is trying to find out the truth - at the risk of displeasing authorities from both Djibouti and France.

The Borrel case has eroded ties between France and the small East African country, home to Frances largest military base in Africa. Djibouti ended judicial cooperation with France last October after a French judge summoned Suleiman and Said for questioning. Neither man showed up. Djibouti also filed charges against France at the International Court of Justice that France had neglected to offer details of its investigation into Judge Borrel's death.

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