20/05/05 (B299) REUTERS (En Anglais) Djibouti leader ignores French death probe summons.

5:15 p.m. May 18, 2005

PARIS – Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who visited Paris this week, ignored a French summons to testify on Wednesday over the mysterious death of a Frenchman in the Horn of Africa country, judicial sources said.

Guelleh left France after holding talks with President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday, Djibouti’s Paris embassy said.

French judge Sophie Clement had summoned Guelleh to give evidence in a judicial inquiry into the death of fellow judge Bernard Borrel, whose burned body was found in Djibouti in 1995.

As president, Guelleh enjoys immunity from prosecution and was not obliged to respond to the summons.

The cause of Borrel’s death has remained unsolved. Authorities initially said he committed suicide, but his widow has accused high-ranking Djibouti officials of involvement in the murder of her husband.

Guelleh said last month Djibouti had ‘nothing to do’ with the Borrel case, calling it a domestic French matter.

‘There are no tensions between us and France,’ Guelleh told reporters after meeting Chirac.

Guelleh was re-elected last month in a one-horse race in the tiny but strategically important Red Sea state.

Since 2002, Djibouti has hosted U.S. troops using the former French colony as a base to hunt down militants such as those who blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, killing more than 200 people.