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French judges attempt search of presidential palace in Djibouti murder probe

[JURIST] Two French judges accompanied by police officers on Wednesday attempted to search France's presidential palace as part of an investigation into the 1995 death of French judge Bernard Borrel [advocacy website, in French] in Djibouti. The search was targeted at the African affairs department, however, the judges were not granted access to the building. A presidential spokesperson said that the magistrates were refused entry because the French constitution ensures immunity for the head of state.

In February, a French magistrate judge issued a second summons [JURIST report] to Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh [IRIN backgrounder] requesting testimony in the investigation. Djibouti officials maintain that the death of Borrel, who advised the Djibouti justice ministry until he was found dead in a ravine, was a suicide, though French investigators suspect he was murdered. Borrel's death has increased tensions between France and Djibouti, a former French colony. In February, Djibouti asked the International Court of Justice to arbitrate a dispute between the two countries [JURIST report] regarding France's investigation of the alleged 1995 murder. Djibouti maintains that France has no right to summon Djibouti officials because of diplomatic immunity. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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