L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

13 July 2007 Blog Home : July 2007 : Permalink

L'Escroc and Juge Borrel

The fun and games of the Clearstream affair are not the only troubles swirling around France's former president Chirac aka L'Escroc. The link is a pretty good summary in the Economist of the state of play although it omits the possible involvement of MAM (Michele Alliot-Marie, former Defence Minister now Interior Minister), something that all sides look to be trying to avoid discovering too much about because MAM and Sarko are now "best buddies" and want to remain that way.

Hence perhaps the shift of focus to other scandals such as the mysterious "suicide" by a French investigative judge in Djibouti in 1995. As the Independent reports, the judge was a busy man who upset local ruler:

Judge Bernard Borrel, 39, was officially in the former French colony on the Red Sea - site of France's largest military base in Africa - to help to reform the penal code. It has since emerged that he was also investigating alleged drugs and arms smuggling by the man who was to become Djibouti's president, Ismael Omar Guelleh.

Borrel's partially burned body was found at the foot of a ravine in October 1995. The local authorities, supported by Paris, declared that he had committed suicide.

The suicide was clearly similar to some of those russian ones where the accused manages to shoot himself three times and then jump from a window. It has taken 12 years for anyone to officially quibble with the verdict, and one sort of wonders why it had to wait until Sarko became President for anything to happen. There is clearly a lot of undercover behind the scenes shadiness here, something that this paragraph makes clear because it is so bizarre :

The affair has many other ramifications. Djibouti brought a case in the International Court of Justice in The Hague in January 2006 to try to force France to hand over its legal dossier on Borrel's death. According to a document recently discovered by investigators at the foreign ministry in Paris, M. Chirac urged Djibouti to bring the case against France.

Mind you the two concluding paragraphs are rather more obvious:

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, two other investigating judges raided the home of Michel de Bonnecorse, a former senior African adviser to M. Chirac. The former president has let it be known that he will refuse to answer any questions about the "Affaire Borrel". He claims permanent legal immunity for all his actions while in the Elysée palace.

In an interview with Le Monde last weekend, the Djibouti President denied all knowledge of the affair. "The Republic of Djibouti was not involved, either closely or from afar, in the death of Bernard Borrel," he said.

How do you say "It wasn't me guv and anyway I was out of the country at the time" in French?