Djibouti links paedophile probe, French judge death

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DJIBOUTI, Oct 18 (Reuters) Djibouti has uncovered a paedophile ring involving former French officials that may be linked to the death of a French judge in 1995, the country's public prosecutor said.

Djama Souleiman Ali told reporters late yesterday that judge Bernard Borrel, whose charred body was found 12 years ago in the Red Sea state, was investigating a paedophile network at the time of his death.

''We found the new face to the Borrel case,'' said Ali, who is himself wanted by French authorities in connection with Borrel's death.

''We discovered a (paedophile) network implicating many French in different categories such as church members, military and diplomats.

We gathered the proof and are ready to take it to court.'' Ali said Djiboutian authorities had only recently become aware of a possible connection between Borrel's death and a paedophile ring.

He did not say when the case would come to court.

When Borrel's body was found, Djiboutian authorities initially said the judge, who was working as a consultant in the justice ministry, had committed suicide. But his widow accused high-ranking officials of involvement in his death.

Last October, a French judge ordered arrest warrants to be issues for public prosecutor Ali and Hassan Said Khaireh, head of the Djiboutian secret services.

A French magistrate has also tried to question Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who was chief of staff of the then president, Hassan Gouled Aptidon. But as serving head of state, he cannot be forced to testify under French law.

Ali dismissed allegations that Djiboutian authorities were involved in the judge's death.

''There are old colonialists who can't accept that an ex-colony can be free from them. It also smacks of racism when you see the way that they behave towards us,'' he said.

The Borrel case is sensitive for France, partly because Djibouti is home to its largest military base in Africa.

REUTERS ARB PM1428

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