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The East African : Feb 23rd 2015
18 The EastAfrican NEWS FEBRUARY 21-27,2015 INTEGRITY OF PRESIDENT ISMAÏL GUELLEH AT STAKE Abdourahman Boreh is Djibouti’s richest man. Picture: File London court to decide if Djibouti tycoon was framed The gove≥nment is said to have falsified evidence in o≥de≥ to label Abdou≥ahman Bo≥eh a ‘te≥≥o≥ist’ By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT The EastAfrican T he High Court in London is set to determine if the government of Djibouti falsified evidence in order to label the country’s richest man, Abdourahman Boreh, a “terrorist,” and obtain an order to freeze his assets in Europe and elsewhere, valued at over $100 million. The Djibouti government had in February 2014 turned to Britain, where new terror laws make it possible to block the assets of anyone who has committed an act of terrorism. Boreh, who fled his country to Dubai, had been convicted in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The court heard that on the night of March 4, 2009, a number of hand grenades were detonated in the capital, Djibouti city, including one thrown into a police station. The next day, the country’s intelligence service tapped Boreh’s phone and recorded him and a colleague talking about the act carried out “last night,” and saying it was done with “deep resonance.” But the most damming line came when they spoke of how “scrap metal” had been delivered. At the High Court in Lon- don, Justice Julian Flaux accepted that the term, “scrap metal” was likely to be a reference to the grenades, especially when coupled with talk of what happened “last night.” ‘Scrap metal’ Boreh countered that all he had done was arrange for political posters to be stuck around Djibouti city and leaflets handed out in defiance of a ban. These, he said, were the scrap metal. The court was not con- vinced and issued the order, freezing approximately $110 million of Boreh’s wealth. Boreh also has investments in Kenya, the Middle East and South Africa. On the strength of the London ruling, the Dubai International Financial Centre blocked more than $5 million of Boreh’s money and the Djibouti government said it would approach the courts in Kenya and South Africa to freeze his local holdings. However, new develop- ments in the case could not only have the orders lifted and the government stopped from freezing Boreh’s assets, but also raise questions about CHARGED In 2009, a number of hand grenades were detonated in Djibouti city, an act that governemnt linked to Abdourahman Boreh. Boreh was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Last year, the Djibouti government turned to the UK to obtain an order to block his assets, valued at over $100 million. Boreh has investments in Europe, Kenya, the Middle East and South Africa. the integrity of President Ismaïl Guelleh, who has ruled Djibouti as a de facto oneparty state since taking over from his uncle in 1999. At a second hearing in No- vember, it emerged that the date on the telephone intercepts appeared to have been altered. The conversation on which the terror claim was based had not been March 5, the day after the grenades, but March 4, several hours before they were thrown. This, Justice Flaux said, changed everything and it was impossible for Boreh and his associate to have meant the grenades when talking about what happened “last night,” given the attack was yet to take place. On Monday, lawyers rep- resenting the Djibouti government and Boreh will be back before Justice Flaux, who has made it clear he is not happy with the state of the evidence. If the freeze order is lifted, it will give Boreh access to his fortune and the capacity to fight on against President Guelleh, with no stain on his name. And courts in Kenya and South Africa are unlikely to consider a request to block local funds if the case has already been found wanting. In 2008, Boreh — a long-term friend and ally of President Ismaïl Guelleh — spoke out on the lack of democracy, especially when the head of state said he would stand for an unconstitutional third term. From exile, he grew ever more vocal on human rights in Djibouti, where critics are rounded up by police, there is no independent press and journalists are rarely granted a visa.
Feb 14th 2015
Mar 1st 2015