Burkina Faso: Thomas Sankara trial fixed for October 11 in Ouagadougou

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The trial of the assassination of Thomas Sankara, a pan-African icon killed with 12 others in a 1987 coup, will begin on October 11 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's military prosecutor announced Tuesday.

"The military prosecutor at the military court of Ouagadougou, informs national and international opinion that the trial of those accused in the case of the assassination of President Thomas Sankara and his twelve companions will open on Monday, October 11, 2021 from 09:00 (GMT and local)," said a statement sent to AFP.

The trial will be relocated "in the banquet hall of Ouaga 2000" and will be "public", the text said.

In mid-April, the case had been referred to the military court in Ouagadougou, after the confirmation of charges against the main defendants, including former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré, 34 years after the death of the "father of the revolution" Burkinabe.

In addition to Compaoré, 12 other defendants will be tried for "attack on state security," "complicity in assassinations," and "complicity in receiving corpses.

The defendants include General Gilbert Diendéré, one of the main leaders of the army during the 1987 coup, who later became Blaise Compaoré's chief of staff, as well as soldiers of the former presidential guard.

General Diendéré is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in Burkina Faso for a 2015 coup attempt.

More people were initially implicated, but "many of the defendants have died," according to lawyers for the prosecution.

President Sankara, who came to power in a coup in 1983, was killed by a commando on October 15, 1987, at the age of 37, during a coup that brought his then comrade-in-arms, Blaise Compaoré, to power.

The death of Sankara, who became a pan-African figure and was nicknamed the "African Che", was a taboo subject during the 27 years of power of Mr. Compaoré, who was himself overthrown by a popular insurrection in 2014.

The case was revived, after the fall of Mr. Compaoré, by the democratic transition regime and an arrest warrant had been issued against him by the Burkinabe justice in March 2016.

In February 2020, a first reenactment of Sankara's assassination took place at the crime scene, at the headquarters of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR) in Ouagadougou.

Blaise Compaoré lives in Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso's neighboring country, where he fled after his fall and of which he obtained the nationality. Unless he appears voluntarily before his judges, he should be tried in absentia.

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