Ex-President of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré sentenced to life for death of predecessor
Antigo presidente do Burkina Faso Blaise Compaore

Blaise Compaoré has been in exile since 2014 in Ivory Coast and did not appear at the trial that began six months ago.
Former Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaoré was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his involvement in the murder of his predecessor, Thomas Sankara, who was killed with 12 of his companions in a 1987 coup d’état.

The military court in Ouagadougou also sentenced the commander of its guard Hyacinthe Kafando and General Gilbert Diendéré, one of the leaders of the army during the 1987 coup, to life imprisonment.

General Diendéré is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for his involvement in a 2015 coup attempt, a year after the fall of Blaise Compaoré following a popular uprising.

Blaise Compaoré, in exile since 2014 in Ivory Coast, and Hyacinthe Kafando, on the run since 2016, did not appear at this trial, which began six months ago.

The three men are convicted of “attack on state security”. Blaise Compaoré and Gilbert Diendéré were also found guilty of “complicity in murder” and Hyacinthe Kafando, suspected of having led the command that killed Thomas Sankara, of “murder”.

They have 15 days to appeal these heavy sentences.

The judges went beyond the demands of the military prosecution, which had asked for 30 years in prison against Compaoré and Kafando and 20 years against Diendéré.

Eight other defendants were sentenced to between three and 30 years in prison. Three defendants were acquitted.

The verdict was greeted by applause in the courtroom, AFP reported.

Removed from power in 2014 after a strong protest in the streets, Blaise Compaoré has lived since then in Côte d’Ivoire and is the big absentee of this trial, having his lawyers denounced “a court of exception”.

Sankara’s ‘right-hand man’, Blaise Compaoré has always denied having been responsible for the massacre.

The circumstances of Sankara’s death were kept a complete secret during the period that Blaise Compaoré was in power, and that alone raises suspicions about him.

Thomas Sankara, who came to power in a 1983 coup d’état, was killed with 12 of his comrades by a commando during a meeting at the headquarters of the National Revolutionary Council (CNR) in Ouagadougou. He was 37 years old.

He left an indelible mark on Africa, where he became known as the “African Che Guevara”, who wanted to “decolonize mentalities” and disrupt the world order by defending the poor and oppressed.

In the year following his coming to power, Sankara changed the name of the country, in an attempt to bury the legacy of French colonial power with the insignia of the Republic of Upper Volta. Sankara’s country was renamed the People’s Democratic Republic of Burkina Faso, which means “country of honest people”.

Sankara is still a very present reference among the Burkinabe – he was mentioned by the country’s new strongman, Sandaogo Damiba, in his first speech to the country – but he also maintains a prominent place in the pantheon of pan-African icons.

Source: with agencies


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