A military court in Burkina Faso has indicted former President Blaise Compaore in connection to the 1987 murder of his charismatic ex-president, Thomas Sankara.
The court cited “complicity in assassination” and an “attack on state security” by Compaore, who ruled the country until 2014, when he was forced to resign in the face of mass demonstrations against an attempt to extend his 27-year rule.
Thirteen others – including Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s right hand man, and Hyacinthe Kafando, his security chief – were also indicted on charges ranging from “assassination” to “concealment of corpses”.
Speaking on the indictment, Benewende Sankara, a lawyer representing the murdered ex-president described the indictment as “a victory and a step in the right direction”.
“It’s with a sigh of relief the family can now go ahead with all the guarantees that surround Burkinabe justice,” he told Al Jazeera. “We can now calmly go to trial.”
Thomas Sankara took power in 1983 and was killed aged 37 along with 12 other government officials in a coup led by Compaore on October 15, 1987.
In 2015, authorities exhumed Sankara’s remains from a grave in Dagnoen, on the outskirts of Ouagadougou. Sankara’s widow said an autopsy revealed his body was “riddled with more than a dozen bullets”.
Following his re-election last year, President Roch Kabore appointed a minister for national reconciliation to address the issue of justice for Sankara.
An international arrest for Compaore issued in 2015 was foiled by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara who prevented Comppaore’s extradition ignoring an extradition treaty between the two countries.
With this indictment, Ivory Coast may have no choice but to comply with the extradition treaty.
It is unclear when the trial will take place.