34 years after the death of Thomas Sankara, former Military Head of State of Burkina Faso, a Military Tribunal on Tuesday charged former President Blaise Compaore in absentia in connection with the 1987 murder Sankara, one of the most infamous killings in Africa’s post-independence history.
Sankara, a charismatic Marxist revolutionary often called “Africa’s Che Guevara,” was assassinated during a coup led by his former friend, Compaore.
Compaore went on to rule Burkina Faso for 27 years before being ousted in a 2014 uprising and fleeing to Ivory Coast, where he is believed still to live. He has previously denied any involvement in Sankara’s death.
The Tribunal charged Compaore with complicity in the assassination, undermining state security and receiving cadavers, a court document seen by Reuters showed.
Compaore’s former right-hand man, General Gilbert Diendere, was also charged with several crimes related to Sankara’s killing, including complicity in the assassination.
Diendere, who has been in prison since a failed coup in 2015, was in court to hear the charges. He will enter a plea later. Burkina Faso issued an arrest warrant for Compaore in 2015, but Ivory Coast has declined to hand him over.
Sankara, who seized power in a 1983 coup at the age of 33, was known for his trademark military fatigues and red beret and rejection of a lavish lifestyle.
In four years as president, he became the first African leader to denounce the menace of AIDS, took a stand against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and promoted women’s rights by opposing female genital mutilation and polygamy.