Burkina Faso: Trial for murder of former leader Sankara continues | Courts News

Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year prison sentence for former president Blaise Compaore for the assassination of his predecessor.

The trial of the October 1987 assassination of former Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara and colleagues will resume on Tuesday.

Military prosecutors in Burkina Faso are asking 30 years in prison for the former President Blaise Compaore about the murder of his predecessor.

The trial was suspended for three weeks because of a Constitutional Court ruling regarding the pending case.

Earlier, the court was asked to find Compaore guilty in absentia in an “attack on national security”, “concealing a corpse” and “complicity in a murder”.

In 1983, Sankara came to power as a 33-year-old army captain, and the following year he changed the country’s name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means “land of honest men”.

He enacted a series of sweeping economic and social policies, including nationalization, public housing and a ban on female genital mutilation, polygamy, and forced marriage.

A Marxist-Leninist, he opposed imperialism and colonialism, often angering Western leaders but gaining followers across the continent and beyond.

On October 15, 1987, Sankara and 12 of his colleagues were shot down by a hit squad at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.

Their assassination coincided with a coup that brought Sankara’s former comrade, Compaore, to power. He ruled for 27 years before being ousted by a popular uprising in 2014 and fleeing to neighboring Ivory Coast.

Fourteen accused

Fourteen people were charged in the trial, 12 of whom appeared in court. Compaore is accused of being the main sponsor behind the murder.

Prosecutors have asked for 30 years in prison for the commander of Compaore’s bodyguard, Hyacinth Kafando, who is suspected of being the commander of the beaten squad.

Five other defendants face sentences ranging from three to 20 years, while another faces an 11-year suspended prison sentence.

The court was asked to acquit three defendants due to lack of evidence, and two due to statute of limitations.

A few days before the trial opened on October 11, Compaore .’s attorneys announced he will not attend a “political trial” erroneously due to irregularities, and insists he enjoys immunity as a former head of state.

Burkina Faso has long been burdened with silence about the assassination – during Compaore’s long tenure in office, the subject was taboo – and many are angry that the killers have gone unpunished.

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