[JURIST] Lawyers for the east African state of Djibouti Monday asked the International Court of Justice [official website] to allow the country to take over a French murder probe into the death of French judge Bernard Borrel [advocacy website, in French] as public hearings in Djibouti v. France [ICJ case archive; JURIST report] began at The Hague. The case was brought by Djibouti in 2006 in a bid to force France to turn over investigation materials and to withdraw summonses against Djibouti government officials, including Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh [IRIN backgrounder], accused of involvement in the death by the judge's widow, Elisabeth Borrel. Djibouti maintains that France has no right to summon Djibouti officials because of diplomatic immunity.
Borrel was as an adviser to the Djibouti Justice Ministry when he was found dead near the city of Djibouti in 1995 while engaged in a money laundering probe. In a initial investigation Djibouti authorities ruled the death a suicide, but subsequent investigations by the French found that there was a possibility of murder. Borrel's widow has argued against the transfer by saying that senior government officials of Djibouti have been implicated in the murder and that the authorities are not neutral. AP has more.