On Wednesday 06 April 2022, a court in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (Who killed Thomas Sankara? The Trial starts in Burkina Faso) has found the former president Blaise Compaoré guilty of the murder of president Thomas Sankara. In reality, it was no secret that Compaoré had killed Sankara, his former friend and companion of arms. We all knew who did it, but during Compaoré’s 27-year reign, Sankara’s demise was taboo, plus the French government’s complicity in it did not help either. Given that Compaoré is now in exile in Ivory Coast, the condemnation is in absentia, and the sentence is life imprisonment. Two of Compaoré’s former top associates, Hyacinthe Kafando and Gilbert Diendéré, were also sentenced to life imprisonment. Compaoré will probably never set foot in Burkina Faso again, especially given that as the coward that he is, he now has Ivorian nationality so as not to get extradited. It took over 34 years to begin to bring some sense of closure to the family of Thomas Sankara and to all of us. Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara said at the courthouse, that she was relieved, and stated, ” … the people of Burkina Faso and the public opinion know now who is Thomas Sankara, … the man, … the politician, … what he wanted and what those who assassinated him wanted too.”
This is a monumental decision not just for Burkina Faso, but for the whole of Africa. It also shows that we, Africans, do not need the Hague Court to judge our own, and that we can make correct decisions. As such the lawyer for the Sankara family, Guy Hervé Kam stated to Reuters, “Today I am very proud to see the culmination of a legal battle of almost 30 years, proud to have a country where justice works.”
Below are excerpts from the BBC.
Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré has received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.
Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power. The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983.
Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa because of his anti-imperialist stance and austere lifestyle. …
He was shot in the chest at least seven times, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.
… the verdict was greeted by applause in the courtroom following the six-month trial that came after years of campaigning for justice by his family and supporters.
… However, there is little prospect that Compaoré will serve his sentence any time soon. He has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality. He previously denounced the trial by a military court as a political sham. …
Ten others were also found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief Haycinthe Kafando, who was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara. He has been on the run for several years and was also tried in absentia. He too received a life sentence. They had both denied the charges.
Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life. He is already serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.
… Eight other defendants received sentences ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.