Burkina Faso coup leader charged with complicity in murder

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2015 5:53 PM

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso's military tribunal has charged the general who briefly took power in a recent coup with complicity in the assassination of former revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara in 1987, the tribunal's director said Sunday.

Gen. Gilbert Diendere already faced charges for the week-long failed September coup against the transitional government.

Tribunal director Col. Sita Sangare told The Associated Press on Sunday about the new charge. A Sankara family member, Mousbila Sankara, said the charge was brought against the general last week but hadn't been made public.

It was only this year that authorities exhumed human remains from Sankara's grave. His family was seeking more answers about his death after the man who overthrew Sankara, former best friend Blaise Compaore, was ousted from power last year in a popular uprising.

In 1987, Diendere was the commander of the presidential guard, the same body that staged the September coup.

Compaore staged the 1987 coup but denies being a part of Sankara's killing.

Family lawyer Stanislas Benewinde Sankara, who is not related to the slain leader, said several others have been arrested and charged in relation to the assassination, including former presidential guard members who have shared important information for the investigation.

Sankara, a Marxist revolutionary, took power in 1983, when he was in his early 30s. During his four years as president, Burkina Faso doubled the number of children in schools, reduced infant mortality, redistributed land from feudal landlords to poor families and planted 10 million trees that still help shade the capital, Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso on Nov. 29 elected a new leader, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.