For decades, Blaise Compaoré, the president of Burkina Faso, preferred to avoid the subject of Thomas Sankara, his former and one-time friend who was brutally murdered by soldiers in 1987 who shot him outside his office. Did.
On Wednesday, a military tribunal confirmed the long, widespread suspicion that Mr Compaoré, now living in exile, was in fact behind the killings. The tribunal sentenced him to absenteeism and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
A rigid security court room in the capital, Ogadogo, has swept across the plate after reading the sentence – the height of a highly anticipated attempt to provide justice for one of Africa’s most notorious political murders.
“This is a relief,” Paul Sankara, the deceased president’s younger brother, said on the phone over the decision. “It’s been a long wait.”
Thomas Sankara, a militant Marxist revolutionary, became one of the youngest presidents in modern African history when he came to power in 1983. For more than four years, he quickly gained a reputation, mainly because of the rule and sentimental violations of the West, which earned him praise. All over Africa
He and 12 others were killed in a military coup in October 1987, which brought to power one of his close friends, Mr Compaoré. For the next 27 years, Mr Compaoré ruled with a severe grip on Burkina Faso until a popular uprising ousted him in 2014, forcing him to flee to the Ivory Coast with the help of French troops.
Mr Compaoré, however, is unlikely to spend any time in jail soon. He refused to return to Burkina Faso for trial, and Ivory Coast refused to hand him over. He has always denied any role in the murder, though his justification has changed over the years.
Mr Sankara’s widow, Mary, who has been living mostly in France since her husband was killed, was in the front row of a courtroom in Ouagadougou.
“I’m satisfied,” she told the Associated Press, adding that she wanted the “main defendant” to be present in the case.
Pierre-Olivier Sur, a French lawyer for Mr Compaoré, said in an interview that his client refused to appear before a “puppet trial” that had taken place in “chaotic and dramatic” situations.
The trial was initiated in a convention center near the Presidential Palace in October, 34 years after Mr Sankara’s death at the age of 37. Despite the challenges of climbing after decades of trial, a panel of civil and military judges show evidence. More than 100 witnesses have been involved in the murders against Mr Compaoré and 13 others.
The operation was briefly delayed in late January after the capture of military rule, the latest in a series of insurgencies that affected the landlocked West African nation since independence from France in 1960.
On Wednesday, the tribunal Hyacinthe Kafando, the former chief of security for Mr Compaoré, and General Gilbert Diendéré, also sentenced to life imprisonment against a senior army commander at the time of the assassination.
Today other people, mostly former soldiers, received sentences between three and 20 years. Three others, who were accused of creating a false death certificate for Mr Sankara, were released.
Unlike Mr. Compaoré, Mr. Cuffinho was not present in the courtroom, which was leaked years ago. General Diendéré has been in prison since 2015 for participating in a failed coup attempt.
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Mr Sankara is still a respected figure in Burkina Faso, and since Mr Campori’s ouster in 2014, his legacy has been celebrated openly. The pilgrims gather on a large bronze statue of Mr. Sankara, at a distance of yards from the place where he was murdered, and his image adorns cars, motorcycles and T-shirts all over the capital.
The lawsuit represents an attempt to establish the truth of his death, as well as a rare if late attempt to enforce justice for a military coup in a region with a long history of military occupation.
“This is a landmark decision,” said Serge Martin Bambra, a well-known rapper and Republican activist with his stage name Smockey. “It shows that nobody is white.”
Still, the rebellion that interfered with the trial in January ousted Burkina Faso’s democratically elected president, Roque Mark Christian Kaburi, and brought yet another military leader to power, hoping that the Sankara trial would be a future military one. Acting as a deterrent to insurgency.
And the trial avoided lengthy questions about the potential role of outside forces in Mr Sankara’s death, including France, the former colonial ruler of Burkina Faso, and neighbor Ivory Coast.
A witness described how French officials visited the intelligence service in Burkina Faso the day after the murder, and removed sensitive surveillance material. But the trial largely avoided the subject of any international role, which the Burkina Faso authorities have reserved for a separate investigation.
Now that the trial is over, the Shankara family is expected to hold a funeral procession for the deceased leader, who was buried in the grave of a poor man taken by prisoners overnight within hours of his assassination in 1987.
“This is not a moment of satisfaction,” said Paul Sankara. “But at least now we can grieve.”
For the absent Mr Compaoré, who was once considered the son of Mr Shankara’s parents, he simply said: “He has his own conscience.