Left: Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso) and Samora Machel ( Mozambique). Two revolutionaries gone too soon. Photo Censors

Burkina Faso -Thomas Sankara Trial

Accused Of Murder, Compaore Chooses to Stay Away

The main defendant in the long-awaited trial on the 1987 assassination of Thomas Sankara and former president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, will not be present at the trial when it opens on October 11, 2021, Burkinabe and French attorneys for Compaore said.

Al-Jazeera reported that the lawyers said the proceedings are "political", and the 70-year-old former leader continually denies being involved.

Sankara was assassinated four years after taking power in a coup led by Compaore, who now lives in  Cote d'Ivoire, where he fled after he was ousted in 2014 during a popular uprising.

Compaore will be judged in absentia.

Exiled former Burkina Faso president, Blaise Compaoré. Getty

The long-awaited trial for the murder of Thomas Sankara - assassinated in a coup d'etat which brought exiled former president Blaise Compaore to power - has been set for 11 October, military prosecutors have announced.
Compaore and 13 others have been charged by a military tribunal over the death of Sankara - a charismatic revolutionary figure whom some referred to as the African Che Guevara.
Last Tuesday's announcement came in a statement from prosecutors at the military tribunal in capital Ouagadougou.
The proceedings, which will be held in public, will begin at 9:00 am local time.

It has taken 34 years for the case to finally come to court. Guy Hervé Kam, one of the lawyers representing families of victims, told RFI it was a victory and "a time for truth" for the families.
"It's been a long wait to establish in a clear, precise and public way, who was individually or collectively responsible for the events which led to the tragedy on 15 October 1987," he said.

Disgraced General Gilbert Diendere. Getty

The accused

Compaore and 12 others face charges of harming state security, complicity in murder and complicity in the concealment of corpses.

Among those accused alongside Compaore is General Gilbert Diendere, Compaore's former right-hand man and a former head of the elite Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) at the time of the coup.

Diendere is already serving a 20-year sentence in Burkina Faso for masterminding a plot in 2015 against the West African country's transitional government. He is believed to have headed the unit that killed Sankara.

Several other members of the presidential guard at that time will also join them in the dock. However, 34 years after the events in question some of those originally accused have already died, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case.

Compaore in exile

Sankara took power in a coup in 1983, but was killed on October 15, 1987, when he was 37, in a putsch led by Compaore.

Compaore was himself ousted in 2014 by a popular uprising after 27 years in power.

He has always denied ordering Sankara's murder, but even mentioning Sankara's name was taboo in Burkina Faso under his rule.

A warrant was issued for Compaore's arrest during the transitional government in March 2016 .

Now 70, Compaore currently lives in Cote d'Ivoire, where he fled after being ousted and where he has since taken citizenship.

Unless he chooses to present himself for trial, he will be judged in absentia.


Published/Updated on 10/[email protected]:21