Trial of alleged assassins of Thomas Sankara begins today; Compaore to boycott proceedings
The trial of the alleged assassins of Thomas Sankara is set to commence today, Monday, October 11, 2021 but former President Blaise Compaore, the main defendant in the long-awaited trial has served notice through his lawyers that he will boycott the proceedings.
Thomas Sankara, born on December 21, 1949 was a Burkinabé military officer and socialist revolutionary who served as the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987.
Sometimes referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”, Mr. Sankara, a Marxist–Leninist and pan-Africanist, was viewed by his supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution.
After assuming power in the Sahel state in 1983, he renamed the country the following year from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Incorruptible People”, with its people being called Burkinabé (“upright people”).
His foreign policies were centred on anti-imperialism, while he rejecting aid from organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, he welcomed foreign aid from other sources but tried to reduce reliance on aid by boosting domestic revenues and diversifying the sources of assistance.
He enacted a number of sweeping economic and social policies, including nationalisations, public housing and a ban on female genital mutilation, polygamy and forced marriages.
Thomas Sankara was killed along with 12 of his close aides, on October 15, 1987, in a bloody coup d’état led by his second-in-command and a former friend, Blaise Compaore, who eventually ruled the country for 27 years.
For three decades, Pan-Africanists, freedom seekers, justice lovers in Africa and across the globe have called for justice to be served and have mobilized for the victimizers of Thomas Sankara to be brought to justice. They therefore describe the trial beginning tomorrow as a “historic moment for justice and for Pan-Africanism”.
But even before the trial commences, former President Blaise Compaore, the main defendant in the long-awaited trial has served notice through his lawyers that he will boycott the proceedings.
“President Blaise Compaore will not be attending the political trial that is being staged against him at the military court of Ouagadougou, nor will we,” Burkinabe and French attorneys for Compaore said on Thursday as reported by Al Jazeera.
His lawyers, Pierre-Olivier Sur and Abdoul Ouedraogo, said the military tribunal was an “exceptional court” that lay outside common law.
They said their client had never received a summons to be questioned, nor had he received any formal accusation against him, except for the summons to attend the trial.
They argue that Compaore has “immunity (from prosecution) as a former head of state”.
In the trial opening on Monday, Compaore and 13 others face an array of charges in the death of Sankara.
Among the accused is Compaore’s former right-hand man – General Gilbert Diendere, 61, a previous head of the elite Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) who is already serving a 20-year sentence in Burkina Faso for masterminding a plot in 2015 against the transitional government.
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