The trial of the assassination of Thomas Sankara resumes in Burkina Faso

People are awaiting the opening of the trial of the alleged perpetrators of the assassination of Thomas Sankara, finally postponed to October 25, in Ouagadougou, October 11, 2021. AFP - OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

Started on October 11, this trial was postponed from the first day, in order to leave more time for the defense to prepare.

On the civil parties side, trust and impatience are intertwined.


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In this case, there are 14 defendants, two of whom were absent: Blaise Compaoré, the former Burkinabè president and friend of Thomas Sankara, and Hyacinthe Kafando, his particular head of security. Blaise Compaoré is suspected of having ordered the assassination and Hyacinthe Kafando of having executed it. Thirty-four years after the events,

the opening of this trial is historic

. Postponed from the first day, it resumes this Monday.

During this second day, the parties must announce their exceptions.

It is a question, above all for the defense, of exposing possible defects of form which could cause a dismissal, or the annulment of all or part of the procedure.

This is a completely classic dilatory method, and the investigation file being more than 20,000 pages thick, the evocation of all the exceptions could take several days. 

Confidence and disappointments among civil parties

We are confident, we have been ready for a long time and the instruction is well put together

 ," however reassures Ambroise Farama, lawyer for the Sankara family.

The forum on national reconciliation is scheduled for January, no one wants to drag things out,

 " adds a source familiar with the matter. 

Same determination at Smockey, spokesperson for the Citizen Broom.

We know that the lawyers of these people will do everything to delay the trial as much as possible. that the right decision be made.

This is an emblematic, historical file, extremely important not only for Burkina Faso but for the African continent [...] This would make it possible to reopen other files still in the drawers, not only of the so-called revolutionary period, I am talking about all the economic and blood crimes that have been committed from 1960 to the present day.

If we want the Burkinabè to have a little confidence in their justice to set an example and [...] even if it hurts to punish all the culprits.


On the family side, however, we are getting impatient.

Although predictable, the dismissal at the start of the trial has taken a toll on morale.

We know it's a marathon, so we tell ourselves that every kilometer counts, but it stays long

 " resolves a relative of the victim. 

Another disappointment: the certainty of the absence of Blaise Compaoré and Hyacinthe Kafando.

The two defendants had ten days from October 11 to appear in court.

This period expired, they will therefore be judged in absentia.

Overthrown by a popular uprising in 2014, the former president now lives in Côte d'Ivoire.

His lawyer, Maître Pierre-Olivier Sur, confirms that he will not come. 

We still do not have the file and therefore we are unable to defend it within the framework of what is called a fair trial.

Who would accept, moreover, that a lawyer could arrive at a trial without having been notified of the charges against his client and without having been able to have access to the file [...] It is a sham trial .

We cannot be accused of cowardice in not appearing at trial if we have not received a copy of the file.

Master Pierre Olivier Sur

Thomas Sankara, former president and leader of the revolution, was killed with twelve of his collaborators on October 15, 1987.

To read also: Sankara trial: Blaise Compaoré “will flee until when?” Asks Mariam Sankara


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  • Burkina Faso

  • Justice

  • Blaise Compaore