BURKINA FASO-Sankara trial resumes, defense lawyers plead acquittal

By on March 23, 2022

OUAGADOUGOU, 22 March (AFP) – The trial of the alleged killers of former Burkinabe President Thomas Sankara in 1987 resumed Tuesday after several weeks of interruption, with defense lawyers pleading for the release of their clients (Media)

The trial had been suspended since 3 March, at the request of defence lawyers who questioned the constitutionality of the charge of “attacking state security”.

On Friday, the Constitutional Council had rejected this request and the trial resumed on Tuesday with the pleadings of the defense.

They began with that of Me Issiaka Ouattara, lawyer of the military doctor Alidou Diebré, prosecuted for “forgery in public writing” for having established the death certificate of Thomas Sankara with the mention “natural death”.

Referring to a statute of limitations for the acts alleged against his client, the lawyer pleaded the acquittal because, he said, “Mr. Diebré had no guilty intention”.

Then, Me Kopiho Moumouny, lawyer of Kafando Hamadou, also prosecuted for “forgery in public writing”, for having produced another death certificate with the mention “accidental death”, also evoked the prescription of the facts and pleaded the acquittal.

Me Mamadou Coulibaly, lawyer of a third accused, Albert Belemliga, prosecuted for “complicity in an attack on the security of the State”, in turn asked for the acquittal of his client.

Me Coulibaly argued that “no witness implicated” his client, whose release is also requested by the military prosecutor.

Fourteen defendants are on trial in the trial of the murderers of Thomas Sankara and his companions in a coup in 1987.

The two main ones, former President Blaise Compaoré who came to power during the putsch before being driven out by the street in 2014, and Hyacinthe Kafando, commander of his guard during the coup, are absent.

At the beginning of February, the military prosecutor’s office requested thirty years in prison for them for “attacking state security”, “concealing a corpse” and “complicity in murder”.

Twenty years in prison were requested against General Gilbert Diendéré, one of the army chiefs during the 1987 putsch and the main defendant present.

He is already serving a 20-year sentence for an attempted coup in 2015.

The hearings of this historic trial began at the end of October and were suspended several times, notably at the time of the coup d’état of 24 January during which Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba overthrew President-elect Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

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