challenges and limits of a historical trial

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This Monday, October 11, military justice in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, opens the trial for the murder of Thomas Sankara. The leader of the Burkinabé Revolution, who seized power in a 1983 coup, was killed by 12 of his associates on October 15, 1987. Thirty-four years after the events, this trial may finally take place and efforts are high.

From our Special Correspondent in Ouagadougou,

First of all, this trial must shed light on the events of 15 October 1987 and, in particular, determine the chain of responsibility. “We want to know who made the decision, who committed the act, who supported him and why,” sums up Céline Bamouni, daughter of Paulin Bamouni, head of the presidential press, Thomas Sankara, killed by his side.

For Aïda Kiemdé, daughter of Frédéric Kiemdé, the legal adviser to Thomas Sankara, also dead by his side, this trial is a relief. “It is the fruit of a long legal battle. Mr Compaoré’s reign has been going on for several years and we have not said anything. So it inevitably aroused despair. Some families, especially mine, had to leave Burkina Faso, which meant that I did not really know my country, unfortunately because of this murder. So today, this trial is truly a glimmer of hope. And we hope that justice will be done and that we will have the truth after several years of waiting. ”

Two major absences In the investigation file, more than sixty witnesses were heard. They can be called to the bar. And then the accused must also explain himself, there are 14 pieces. Twelve will be present. On the other hand Blaise Compaore, Former President of Burkina Faso, and Hyacinthe Kafando, suspected of having led the deadly command in Sankara, will be tried in absentia. The first, a refugee in Côte d’Ivoire, refused to stand trial, while the second, he has disappeared since 2015.

It is a disappointment for Aïda Kiemdé. “It is a trial that everyone is waiting for. Not only we families, the Burkinabè people, the whole of Africa are waiting for this truth. They have an incredible chance of being able to come once to take responsibility. After all, we hope we will have the truth. ”

Interview: Sankara trial: Blaise Compaoré “will flee until then?” Mariam Sankara asks

Another problem: it is a military court that judges this case, because at the time of the facts, the main actors were military. For Paul Zaïda, national coordinator of the Framework for Democratic Expression, a civil society organization, the truth cannot come from an exceptional jurisdiction.

“An exceptional court obeys orders and hierarchy. We know that there is the command, but there is also the President of Faso, who is the supreme commander of the army. It is true that he will not be present during the trial, but I think he will have instructions to give. So it seems to me very difficult that there is the truth about this Thomas Sankara file. “

Nor will this trial address the issue of international conspiracy. Despite bundles of clues suggesting a possible involvement of Côte d’Ivoire or France, the investigating judge was unable to gather sufficient evidence. The France in particular, they did not provide all the declassified archives that had been promised.

A “necessary” trial Although this trial is imperfect, it is still necessary for Burkina Faso, according to Ablassé Ouédraogo, former Foreign Minister and president of the Le Faso Party. “I, I see that this trial has three merits: the first is to allow to have at least some of the truth. The second merit of the trial will be to let the present rulers go further in the matter of national reconciliation. And what is very important is that “Definitely turn around this sad side of Burkina Faso. ‘

Read also: in Burkina Faso, an exceptional security device for the assassination attempt in Sankara

A major dialogue for reconciliation in Burkina Faso will begin on 17 January.

Web Documentary: Who Killed Thomas Sankara?

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