A military court in Ouagadougou which began the long-awaited trial of 14 people accused of plotting the assassination of Burkina Faso’s former president Thomas Sankara 34 years ago, was immediately adjourned.
This followed the request from two court appointed defense lawyers, who asked for a postponement of the trial by one month “in the name of the truth”, arguing that they had not had enough time to study “the 20,000 documents in the file”.
“The request of the defendants’ counsel for a reasonable period of time to examine the documents in the file is a request that seemed to us to be well-founded in principle, which is why, as counsel for the civil party, we did not formulate any particular objections. They asked for one month, the court granted them two weeks, we believe that this is a reasonable time,” Judge Ambroise Farama, the plaintiff’s lawyer said.
However, the request for a video recording of the trial, the plaintiff hoped to archive for historical reference was denied by the judge.
One of those standing trial is friend of Sankara and comrade-in-arms Blaise Compaore, who took power following the assassination. He was not present in court on the day the trial begun as he has said through his lawyers last week that he would boycott the trial claiming immunity as an head of state.
Blaise Compaore ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years before being deposed by a popular uprising in 2014 and fleeing to neighbouring Ivory Coast, which granted him citizenship.
He and his former right-hand man, General Gilbert Diendere, who once headed the elite Presidential Security Regiment, face charges of complicity in murder, harming state security and complicity in the concealment of corpses.
Diendere, 61, is already serving a 20-year sentence for masterminding a plot in 2015 against the transitional government that followed Compaore’s ouster.
He appeared in court dressed in military uniform and looked relaxed.
“This is a day of truth for me, my family and all Burkinabe,” she said, referring to the name of Burkina citizens.