Investigating judges were prohibited from carrying out the rare search of the French presidential palace on Wednesday. That would be the part of probe to the alleged murder of a French judge in Djibouti in 1995.
The judges, accompanied by a police officer, sought to enter the Elysee Palace in an investigation of claims of official pressure on investigators looking into the death of judge Bernard Borrel in Djibouti, a former French territory.
President Jacques Chirac's office rejected the search request, saying Article 67 of the French Constitution protects a serving president from having to testify or being targeted by an investigation.
It was not clear what role investigating judges Fabienne Pous and Michelle Ganascia suspected that Chirac or his office might have in the case. The judges later left the courtyard of the presidential palace, where they had been waiting for a response on their search request.
The attempted search of the presidential palace is extremely unusual in France, and came as the Cabinet was ending a weekly meeting. Justice Minister Pascal Clement did not speak to reporters on the way out.
Borrel's widow has alleged that her husband, whose charred body was discovered in October 1995, was assassinated and that Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh ordered the crime.
French investigators at first supported Djibouti's claims that the judge committed suicide, but recent French medical and legal studies concluded that the judge was murdered.
Investigators conducted a search of the French Foreign Ministry in the case last month.
Chirac, who has been president since 1995, is leaving office later this month after a runoff election Sunday to choose his successor.