Burkinabe Ex-President Compaore Charged In Thomas Sankara Murder
Military court indicts Burkina Faso’s exiled former president for alleged complicity in 1987 murder of man he removed in coup, Thomas Sankara.
A military court in Burkina Faso’s capital has indicted former President Blaise Compaore in connection to the 1987 murder of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara. A statement issued by the court on Tuesday cited complicity in assassination and an attack on the state security by Compaore, who ruled the country until 2014, when he was forced to resign in the face of mass
demonstrations against an attempt to extend his 27 year rule. Thirteen 13 others including Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s right hand man and Hyacinthe Kafando, his security chief were all also indicted on charges ranging also from the assassination to the concealment of the corpses. Benewende Stanislas Sankara, a lawyer also representing the relatives of the slain former president,
described the indictment as a victory and a step in the right direction. It’s with a sigh of relief the family can now go ahead with all the guarantees that surround Burkinabe justice, he told the media. We can now also calmly go to trial. The Burkina Faso’s communications minister said an official government statement on the indictment will likely be issued on Wednesday. Eddie Komboigo, leader of the Compaore-founded Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party, declined to comment on the court’s announcement.
Compaore was forced to resign after mass protests against his attempts to extend his 27 year rule
Sankara took power in 1983, but he was killed aged 37 along with 12 other government officials during a coup led by Blaise Compaore on the October 15, 1987. Many Burkinabes also regard Sankara as a national hero. A prominent pan-Africanist, he sometimes also referred to as the continent’s “Che Guevera”, in reference to the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who led a number of armed struggles, including in Cuba. In 2015, authorities
exhumed what are thought to be the Sankara’s remains from grave also in the Dagnoen on the outskirts of the Ouagadougou. Sankara’s widow also said an autopsy revealed his body was riddled with more than a dozen bullets. To this day, the graffiti calling for “Justice for Sankara” is a common sight throughout the capital. It is a matter for the Burkinabe people and, I have to say, the African people. So this also transcends the Thomas Sankara’s family, said Benewende Sankara.
Following his re-election the last year, President Roch Kabore appointed a minister for national reconciliation, Zephirin Diabre, who pledged to address the issue of justice for Sankara. In 2015, the Burkinabe courts had issued an international arrest for Compaore, but Ivorian President Mr Alassane Ouattara has also prevented his extradition back to Burkina Faso despite an extradition
treaty between the two countries. During his election campaign in the lead-up to the November 2020 polls, Kabore had also said he would be open to Compaore Blaise returning to the country to live out retirement. A national debate also ensued over whether the former president, now 70, should face trial upon his return or be effectively pardoned in the interests of national
reconciliation. The warrant can be executed at any time if the Cote d’Ivoire and the Burkina Faso implement the existing agreements between all both the two states properly, Benewende Sankara said. I must specify that it can happen very quickly. Tuesday’s indictment may put further pressure on Ivory Coast to follow through on the extradition treaty. It is unclear when the trial will take place. Sankara’s relatives initially brought the case
to the courts in 1997. It was closed soon after, before also being reopened by the country’s then transitional government in 2015. We can say that the Sankara case has also now fully passed all the stages needed to see judgement, Lassane Sawadogo, executive secretary of the ruling People’s Movement for Progress party (MPP) told the media, This represents a decisive step forward for the manifestation of the truth.