Burkina Faso: Blaise Compaoré sentenced to life for the murder of Thomas Sankara

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What should be called today the Sankara trial ended yesterday with the sentencing on April 6, 2022 of the former head of state of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré to life imprisonment. The sentence was pronounced by the judicial court of Ouagadougou.

Driven out of power and in exile in Ivory Coast since 2014, it is as a prisoner that the former President of the Republic of Burkina Faso will certainly repress the land of the country of “Upright Men”. For good reason, the court found him guilty of the assassination of Thomas Sankara killed on October 15, 1987 during a coup d’etat. During this trial, were also sentenced to life imprisonment, Hyacinthe Kafando, head of the close guard of Compaoré and Gilbert Diendéré, one of the bosses of the army during the famous coup of 1987. The latter in particular is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for an attempted putsch in 2015, just one year after the overthrow of Compaoré. Some saw it as a desperate maneuver to bring his master back to power.

Of the 14 defendants presented to the Burkinabe courts, 8 were sentenced to varying terms of between 3 and 20 years in prison. And the last 3 were acquitted. The reason given against Compaoré, Diendéré and Kafando is “attack on state security”. The first two are in addition to this reason, found guilty of “complicity in murder. Kafando meanwhile, suspected of having led the punitive expedition against Sankara, was also found guilty of “murder”. The judges ignored the requisitions of the Military Prosecutor’s Office of Ouagadougou which demanded 30 years in prison for the former head of state and the head of his close guard and 20 years for General Diendéré.

It should be noted here that this trial lasted 6 months. It opened in October 2021, the anniversary month of the death of the icon of all Africa, Thomas Sankara. The trial was adjourned for the first time on January 24, 2022 due to the military coup orchestrated by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. It was adjourned again on January 31 due to the restoration of the Constitution, temporarily suspended by the junta which overthrew Roch Marc Kaboré. There followed a succession of dismissals of this trial for various reasons, in particular the provision of service by Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba before the Constitutional Council on February 16. It was finally held on April 6, 2022 in the absence of Blaise Compaoré, still in exile in Côte d’Ivoire.
Defense lawyers denounced a “political trial”, believing that the trial is worthless. They still have 15 days to appeal. Sankara’s family welcomes the verdict rendered 34 years after the death of Pan-African Thomas Sankara. His wife declares to this effect that: “Our goal was for the political violence that there is in Burkina to end. This verdict will give a lot of people pause.”

Justice has finally been served for Thomas Sankara, true father of Pan-Africanism. A great figure in the anti-colonial struggle in Africa, he was in power from 1983 to 1987. The country notably owes him its new name “Burkina Faso”. He was overthrown and then assassinated on October 15, 1987 by a putsch orchestrated by his comrade in arms Blaise Compaoré.

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