Home FeaturedPolitics

Burkina prosecutors seek 30 years for ex-leader Compaore over Sankara murder

MILITARY prosecutors in Burkina Faso Tuesday requested 30 years in jail for exiled former president Blaise Compaore over the 1987 murder of his predecessor, revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara.

The long-awaited trial, which started in October, comes as the West African country reels from its latest military coup last month, following popular anger over jihadist attacks in the country.

Prosecutors asked a court to find Compaore guilty in absentia of an ‘attack on state security,’ ‘concealment of a corpse’ and ‘complicity in a murder,’ accusing the deposed leader in exile of being the mastermind of the killing.

At the request of the defence, which has yet to make a plea, the trial was then suspended until March 1.

Revered among African radicals, Sankara was an army captain aged just 33 when he came to power in a coup in 1983.

The fiery Marxist-Leninist railed against imperialism and colonialism, often angering Western leaders but gaining followers across the continent and beyond.

Sankara and 12 of his colleagues were gunned down by a hit squad on October 15, 1987, at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.

Their assassination coincided with a coup that brought Sankara’s former comrade-in-arms, Compaore, to power.

Compaore ruled for 27 years before being deposed by a popular uprising in 2014 and fleeing to neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Fourteen people stand accused in the trial, 12 of them appearing in court. Most pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution also requested 30 years in jail for the commander of Compaore’s presidential guard, Hyacinth Kafando, who is suspected of having led the hit squad. He is also being tried in absentia.

It sought a 20-year sentence for Gilbert Diendere, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant present at the trial. He is already serving a 20-year sentence over an attempted military coup in 2015.

‘Asking for justice’

The prosecution recounted the day Sankara was killed in its closing statement

It said that when Sankara headed to the National Revolutionary Council, ‘his executioners were already there.’

According to its version of events, after Sankara entered the meeting room, the hit squad burst in, killing his guards.

‘The squad then ordered president Sankara and his colleagues to leave the room. They would then be killed one by one,’ the prosecution said.

The prosecution also urged prison sentences ranging from three to 20 years for five other defendants, as well as an 11-year suspended sentence for another.

It sought acquittal over lack of evidence for three of the accused, and cited the expiration of a statute of limitations for the final two.

The trial was already briefly suspended last month after a coup that deposed Burkinabe president Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

After new military strongman Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba restored the constitution, the trial resumed last week.

Prosper Farama, the lawyer representing Sankara’s family, said that, as the trial approached its end, the families were finally feeling some relief – even though ‘during this trial, no one confessed or repented. No one!’

‘We ask the court to give the families justice,’ he said. ‘We don’t want revenge, we’re simply asking for justice.’

 

Source
AFP

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button