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Sankara murder trial resumes in Burkina Faso

Sankara murder trial resumes in Burkina Faso
First day devoted to formal matters and none of the defendants were heard

By Aurore Bonny

DOUALA, Cameroon (AA) - The trial of 14 defendants in the assassination of Burkina Faso’s former President Thomas Sankara and 12 others resumed Monday at a military court in the capital Ouagadougou.

The first day was devoted to formal matters and none of the defendants were heard. The defense lawyers requested the provisional release of some of the defendants for family, health or age reasons. The outcome of the application will be known tomorrow on the second day of the trial.

Sankara, a military officer who came to power in 1983, was assassinated on Oct. 15, 1987 at the age of 35. It was during a coup carried out by his ally Blaise Compaore, also a former head of state of Burkina Faso, who is accused of his murder. Twelve other people were killed that day. Driven from power by a popular uprising on Oct. 31, 2014 after 27 years in power, Compaore is exiled in Abidjan in Ivory Coast and will be tried in absentia. He has already denied the accusation.

The trial was initially scheduled for Oct. 11 but was adjourned at the request of two defense lawyers. The hearing was held today in the absence of several witnesses.

These included Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, former French President Francois Mitterrand's foreign affairs adviser, Roland Dumas, the French foreign minister, and Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture at the time of the case.

The civil party requested authorization for them to testify by videoconference. The prosecution emphasized the unavailability of logistical means and the defense expressed concern about the credibility of testimony by this means of communication.

The court, as reported by the local media, suspended the hearing while it sought to find common ground in the morning. Eventually, the process was allowed.

The hearing was adjourned in the afternoon.

Sankara was a revolutionary who was highly regarded by pan-Africanists for his anti-imperialist struggle. This trial, which is being closely followed by Africanists, is for his widow Mariam Sankara "vital to end the culture of impunity and violence that still plagues many African countries, despite the facade of democracy."

source: News Feed
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