By Ebi Kesiena
A former soldier admitted at a trial on Tuesday that he had helped transport a hit squad to assassinate Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, 34 years ago.
The trial unfolding at a military court in Ouagadougou, is being closely followed by the Burkinabe public, many of whom hope it will shed light on one of their country’s darkest chapters.
14 people are on trial for the 1987 assassination in which Sankara and 12 others were cut down in a hail of bullets at a top government meeting.
The accused include Sankara’s friend and former comrade-in-arms, Blaise Compaore, who came to power after the bloodbath.
In testimony to the court, former Private Yamba Elise Ilboudo, 62, admitted a charge of complicity in endangering state security.
But he said his actions were unpremeditated, he had not taken part in any meeting to plan the assassination, nor had he taken part in the shooting.
He said that on the day of the October 15, 1987 coup, he was “at Blaise Compaore’s home” with other men.
“We were under the orders of Hyacinthe Kafando, as Head of Security,” Ilboudo said.
Kafando, who became Chief Warrant Officer in Compaore’s Presidential Guard after the coup, is alleged to have been in charge of the hit squad. He is on the run.
Compaore has always denied suspicions that he engineered the assassination and likewise is being tried in absentia.
Ilboudo said he was told by Kafando to drive to the meeting which Sankara was attending.
When they arrived, Kafando and another individual called Maiga, “who had been driving Blaise Compaore’s car, got out and opened fire,” he testified.
Kafando then ordered the men in the two cars to get out.
Some went to the rear of the building where President Sankara was, Ilboudo said.
He however added that he remained in the car during what happened next, and did not open fire.