Former President Blaise Compaore, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in Burkina Faso on Wednesday, for the death of the country’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara in 1987. ayokinews.com reports
The long-awaited judgement delivered, bringing an end to a case that has plagued the impoverished and troubled state for 34 years.
Hyacinthe Kafando, an officer accused of leading the kill squad, and General Gilbert Diendere, an army commander at the time of the assassination, which occurred during a coup that brought Compaore to power, were also given life sentences by the court.
Compaore, who has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since being overthrown by popular demonstration in 2014, and Kafando, who has been on the run since 2016, were tried in their absence.
Many in the landlocked Sahel nation, where Sankara’s gruesome murder remains a dark blot on the country’s history, keenly watched the six-month trial.
Sankara, whom many know as a fiery Marxist-Leninist, was popular for slamming the West for neocolonialism and hypocrisy. He was assassinated on October 15, 1987, barely four years after ascending to power as an army captain at the age of 33.
At a meeting of the governing National Revolutionary Council, Sankara and 12 other comrades were assassinated by a hit squad.
During the 27-year rule of Blaise Compaore, Sankara’s comrade-in-arms, discussing the leftist icon’s death was prohibited.
Compaore, Kafando, and Diendere were all convicted guilty of endangering state security by a court in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Compaore and Diendere were convicted for their involvement, while Kafando was convicted of murder.
Compaore boycotted the trial, which his attorneys characterized as a “political trial,” while Diendere’s counsel stated that his client’s life sentence was “excessive” considering the fact that he had attended and contributed to the proceedings while the two other main defendants were missing.
Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, who maintained a physical presence all through the trial, hailed the outcome.
“The judge has handed down his verdict in line with the law, and everyone appreciates this,” she said.
“It is something that we had requested — justice and truth.”
“Our goal was for the political violence we have in Burkina Faso to come to end. This verdict will give many people cause for thought.”
Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries on the planet, has had a lengthy history of political strife since attaining independence from France in 1960.