The former president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré and his co-defendants were set to die on Wednesday 6 April 2022 in Ouagadougou. The military court sentenced the three main defendants to life imprisonment for attacks on state security and complicity in the assassination of President Thomas Sankara in 1987.
The verdict fell today: life imprisonment for Blaise Compaoré, Gilbert Diendéré and Hyacinthe Kafando in the Sankara assassination case. Indeed, the three men were convicted of “attacking state security“. Blaise Compaoré and Gilbert Diendéré are also found guilty of “complicity in murder” and Hyacinthe Kafando, suspected of leading the commando who killed Thomas Sankara. The verdict was welcomed with applause in the courtroom. Several other people were convicted in the case. Bossobè Traoré, who was on trial for complicity in an attack on state security and complicity in murder, was acquitted. The parties now have fifteen days to appeal.
Very noticeable absences
Blaise Compaoré, the main defendant in this case, is absent from the trial because he was ousted from power in 2014 by the population and has been living in Ivory Coast since then. Indeed, it should be noted that he is a close friend of President Sankara and that he was brought to power through this putsch. Blaise Compaoré is suspected of being the mastermind of Sankara’s assassination, which he has always denied. Similarly, 30 years have also been requested against the Chief Warrant Officer Hyacinthe Kafando, a former commander of Compaoré’s guard, who has been on the run since 2016 and is suspected of having led the commando that murdered Thomas Sankara and his companions. The vast majority of the accused pleaded not guilty. The defendants say that an attempt to arrest Sankara “went wrong”, following differences with Blaise Compaoré “on the march of the revolution”. In addition, 30 years in prison had been requested against Blaise Compaoré by the prosecutor’s office of the military court of Ouagadougou for “attack on state security”, “handling a corpse” and “complicity in murder”.
For Mariam Sankara, the widow of the assassinated president, “The judge gave his verdict according to the law and everyone appreciates…This is something we asked for, justice and truth… Our aim was that the political violence in Burkina should end. This verdict will give many people reason to think”. Indeed, this historic trial opened in October 2021, 34 years after the assassination. ” Today, I can say that I am proud to be a Burkinabe and a lawyer. I am proud to see the outcome of a legal battle that lasted almost 30 years,” said Guy Hervé Kam, the lawyer of the Sankara family. Even though the recent coup d’état in Burkina Faso disrupted the process, the relatives are happy because justice has been done.
Killed for a noble cause
The death of Thomas Sankara, who wanted to “decolonise mentalities” and upset the world order by standing up for the poor and oppressed, has been a taboo subject during Mr Compaoré’s 27 years in power. President Sankara was shot dead at the age of 37 by soldiers in a coup d’état on 15 October 1987. Four years earlier, the two men (Sankara and Compaoré) had organised the power grab that allowed Sankara to become president. After the verdict was announced, the civil parties moved towards the Thomas Sankara memorial. A page in the history of Burkina Faso has thus been turned.