Thomas Sankara murder: Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré has received a life sentence.

Former President of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré has been sentenced to life in prison in his absence for his role in the death of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.

During the coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power in 1987, Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others.

They had been good friends and had seized power together in 1983.

Because of his anti-imperialist attitude and ascetic lifestyle, Sankara remains a hero for many Africans.

Following his ascension to power at the age of 33, the Marxist revolutionary dubbed “Africa’s Che Guevara” waged anti-corruption campaigns and supervised massive increases in education and health spending.

Sankara was allegedly lured to his death at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council, according to the prosecution.

According to ballistics experts who testified during the trial, he was shot in the chest at least seven times.

Following the six-month trial, which came after years of agitation for justice by his family and supporters, the verdict was met with applause in the courtroom, according to BBC West Africa correspondent Lalla Sy.

Mariam Sankara, Sankara’s widow, who was present during the trial, said the verdict represented “justice and truth” after a 35-year wait.

“Our goal was for the political violence we have in Burkina Faso to come to end. This verdict will give many people cause for thought.”

Compaoré, on the other hand, is unlikely to serve his term any time soon.

He has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since being dismissed from power in 2014 as a result of large protests, and has adopted Ivorian citizenship.

He earlier called the military court proceedings a political charade.

Ten other people were found guilty, including Haycinthe Kafando, Compaoré’s security commander, who was accused of commanding the killing team that killed Sankara.

He’s been on the run for a long time and was also tried in his absence. He, too, was sentenced to life in prison.

Both of them had disputed the allegations.

Gilbert Diendéré, one of the army leaders during the coup in 1987 and the only defendant who was present at the trial, was similarly condemned to life in prison. For a coup attempt in 2015, he is already serving a 20-year sentence.

His counsel called the punishment “excessive,” claiming that, unlike those who were prosecuted in absentia, he should have been awarded credit for testifying at the trial.

Eight other offenders were sentenced to three to twenty years in prison, while three were acquitted.

While in power, Sankara renamed his country Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Honest People,” from its colonial name of Upper Volta.

He slashed his own pay, as well as the pay of top civil workers, and sold off a collection of high-end automobiles.

He championed pan-Africanism, self-sufficiency, true independence from erstwhile colonial power France, and gender equality by outlawing female circumcision and polygamy during his four years in power.

His critics, on the other hand, object to alleged human rights violations against his opponents.

Activists in a number of African countries continue to pay tribute to him, pledging to carry on his legacy.

In 2019, a six-metre (16-foot) statue of him was erected in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

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