Fourteen men one of them a former leader will stand trial at Burkina Faso from Monday over the assassination that took place in 1987 by Thomas Sankara, the country’s revolutionary leader and pan-Africanist iconic figure.
It’s almost 34 years when Sankara was shot dead during the course of a putsch commanded by an old comrade or close friend an incredibly shocking incidents within a country that is well-versed the brutality of politics.
The suspicions have been directed for a long time towards Sankara’s successor as president, Blaise Compaore, who led the poor Sahel state for the next 27 years.
Compaore was overthrown by a popular revolt in 2014, and he fled to the neighboring Ivory Coast, which granted the former president citizenship.
He is the most prominent accused in the trial. The trial will be held in an army court in the capital city of Ouagadougou.
The 70-year-old, who repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder of Sankara will be heard in absentia. In the last day of Friday’s trial, Sankara made it clear via his lawyer that he was not attending the trial.
A young captain in the army and Marxist-Leninist influenced by the Ghanaian Jerry Rawlings, Sankara came to power via an attempt to overthrow the government in 1983.
At only 33, he set out on a mission that was a radical overhaul.
He renamed the nation Burkina Faso (“the land of honest men”) from the colonial period Upper Volta, carried out several nationalisations and prohibited female polygamy, genital dissection, or forced unions.
After four years, Sankara was elected president his administration, 12 other top leaders were dead.
They were killed by a hit squad while they attended a gathering in the room of headquarters for the National Council of the Revolution in Ouagadougou.
Some of the suspects are the former right-hand man of Compaore – General Gilbert Diendere, a former chief of the top Presidential Security Regiment.
The two face charges of involvement in murder as well as harming security of the state and involvement in the cover-up of dead bodies.
Diendere 60, who was arrested in 2015 currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for 20 years in Burkina Faso for masterminding a plot against the interim government which followed the removal of Compaore.
One of the most prominent figures among those being investigated is Hyacinthe Kafando, who was a Former chief warrant officer of the presidential guard of Compaore, who is suspected of being the leader of the hit-team. He is wanted.
Compaore has always denied that of arranging the murder of his former comrade-in arms — however, during his lengthy tenure in power, the death of Sankara was always a subject of discussion.
Things changed in 2015 as the interim government that was formed following Compaore began an investigation. The next year, prosecutors released an arrest warrant international for the man.
The former president’s lawyers on Friday slammed the what they described as an “political trial” which took the place of an “exceptional place” which is outside the scope of the norm of law.
Compaore was, according to them, did not receive an order to be questioned and he had not been the subject of any formal charges against him, other than the summons for the trial.
Additionally, Compaore has “immunity as an ex-head of state” they claimed.
Despite these reservations this trial is welcomed by those who claim Burkina Faso has long been plagued with silence, and simmering anger over the fact that the perpetrators of the crime have been left unpunished.
“The trial will be the end of all deceit — we’ll receive a glimpse of truth. But the trial won’t be able to bring back our hopes,” Halouna Traore, an ally of Sankara and the only survivor of the putsch, stated in a television interview.
“It is the responsibility of us to draw lessons from the lessons of this case,” He said.
“The trial will require us to look in the mirror, and recognize the harm that we’ve caused ourselves by allowing complicity from outside due to the fact that the physical aspect of the coup took place in Burkina but the people who ordered it from outside are not in the country.”
“It’s an opportunity to seek justice” declared Jean Hubert Bazie an ex-highly placed minister of justice under Sankara.
“It’s an opportunity to speak to the real truth.”
Source : AFP