By John Ikani
Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaoré has received a life sentence for his role in the assassination of his revolutionary predecessor, Thomas Sankara.
Compaore, who is in exile was tried in absentia.
Military prosecutors in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, had requested a 30-year sentence for Compaoré, who was being tried alongside 13 others.
Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power until his ouster in 2014.
An iconic figure sometimes dubbed the “African Che Guevara”, Sankara was just 33 when he came to power in 1983, setting in motion a revolution that pledged to “decolonise African minds” and continues to inspire followers across the continent.
The short-lived experiment came to a brutal end on October 15, 1987, when he and 12 colleagues were gunned down by a hit squad during a meeting at the presidential palace in Ouagadougou. The massacre coincided with a coup that took Sankara’s erstwhile comrade Compaoré to power.
On Wednesday, a special military tribunal ruled that Compaoré was guilty of complicity in Sankara’s murder.
Thirteen others were also found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief Haycinthe Kafando, who was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara.
Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life.
He is already serving a 20-year sentence for a 2015 coup attempt.
The long-awaited verdict brings to close a six-month trial over the assassination of Thomas Sankara on October 15, 1987.
Compaoré has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality.