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BURKINA FASO – former President Compaoré will be tried for the murder of Thomas Sankara

From left to right: Blaise Compaoré, Thomas Sankara and Jean-Baptiste Lingani, August 4, 1983, the day Sankara takes power @Archives Jeune Afrique

Former President of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré, in exile in Côte d’Ivoire, will be tried for the murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankara, a pan-African icon, during the 1987 coup d’état that brought him to power, lawyers told AFP on Tuesday.

The case was referred back to the military court in Ouagadougou on Tuesday, after the confirmation of charges against the main defendants, including Blaise Compaoré, 34 years after the death of the «father of the Burkinabe Revolution», according to defence lawyers and civil parties.

«This (Tuesday morning) we attended the deliberation of the chamber of control of the investigation, which sent the case to trial», declared to AFP Guy Hervé Kam, a lawyer of the civil party. «These are essentially Blaise Compaoré and 13 others, accused of attacks on the state security», «complicity in assassinations» and «complicity in the concealment of corpses». The hour of justice has finally come, a trial can begin. It is therefore up to the military prosecutor to schedule a hearing date,’ he said.

Among the accused were General Gilbert Diendéré, one of the main chiefs of the army during the 1987 coup, who later became Blaise Compaoré’s special chief of staff, as well as soldiers of the former presidential guard. General Diendéré is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in Burkina Faso for an attempted coup in 2015. More people were initially implicated, but «many accused have died», Kam said. “The file is referred” to the court, the date of the trial “is not yet decided” but it could take place “very soon”, since the warrants to bring in accused persons who are not yet detained have been ordered this morning,” said Mathieu Somé, counsel for General Gilbert Diendéré.

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President Sankara, who came to power by a coup d’état in 1983, was killed by a commando on October 15, 1987, at the age of 37, during the coup that brought to power his then comrade-in-arms Blaise Compaoré. The death of Sankara, who became a Pan-African figure and nicknamed «Che Africain», was a taboo subject during the 27 years of power of Blaise Compaoré, himself overthrown by a popular uprising in 2014.

The case was revived, after the fall of Blaise Compaoré, by the democratic transition regime. An arrest warrant was issued against him by the Burkinabe justice in March 2016. But he lives in Côte d’Ivoire, where he fled after his fall. Having obtained Ivorian nationality, he cannot be extradited and should therefore be tried in absentia. In February 2020, a first reconstruction of Sankara’s murder took place at the scene of the crime, at the headquarters of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR) in Ouagadougou.

Source: Le Figaro


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