In Burkina Faso, after 35 years of events, the verdict was delivered in the assassination trial of Thomas Sankara, yesterday, Wednesday, 6 April, by the military court of Ouagadougou. On October 15, 1987, the father of the Burkina Faso revolution was assassinated along with 12 of his aides in the Council of Entente, the seat of revolutionary power. His close friend, Blaise Compaore, who would succeed him as President, Hyacinth Kafando – Blaise Compaore’s chief of security – and General Gilbert Diendere, then head of security for the Concord Council, were sentenced to life imprisonment. It took 25 years of legal battle, six months of trial and more than 110 testimonies to get this ruling. A historic moment for Maryam Sankara, the widow of the former president.
RFI : Finally the verdict of your husband’s murder trial fell after 35 years of facts. What is your first reaction? ?
Mary Sankara : I tell myself that this trial was finally done, and finally the verdict was passed … We sometimes thought that this trial would not start, even when there were doubts, there was a suspension, but in any case the verdict was issued. I salute the rebellion of my compatriots who made Blaise Compaore go, I salute the government that was formed after this rebellion to allow the investigation of the case, and for all that we are here today.
Blaise Compaore, Hyacinth Kafando, General Gilbert Denderi Sentenced to life imprisonment, that’s more than the military prosecution asked, how do you evaluate this court decision ?
It is true that we did not expect this sentence, but it is still a dangerous act committed, an assassination, and for this reason we cannot say that these punishments are not on an equal footing. It will also help persuade people to commit this violence, because this violence must stop in Africa and in Burkina Faso.
Does Blaise Compaoré’s absence, from Hyacinthe Kafando still weigh in on this trial? ?
I tell myself that if they were there it might have given the other defendants courage to express themselves, to tell the truth, because all the defendants were in complete denial, they all denied, but since the main actors Blaise Compaore and Hyacinthe Kafando were on the run, so did the others the same thing. They never repent, I leave them with the penalty of their conscience.
Since the beginning of this trial we have also heard a lot of words of forgiveness and reconciliation, Burkina has to move on … We also talk about Blaise Compaore’s old age, his health, the fact that he should return to the country, is that what is a possible scenario for you ?
We cannot make reconciliation without justice. There is a Thomas Sankara file, but there are other files as well, it is also necessary to go through these files, but hey, I think it’s up to Burkina Faso to figure out, there are a lot of problems to solve even before reaching reconciliation.
Specifically, we have seen supporters in the courtroom of General Gilbert Diendere, supporting him, and saying that he is without a doubt the divine man who can get Burkina out of the security predicament in which it finds itself, that is what you think. ?
Compaoré was also said, I think that if Diendéré or Compaoré really love their people, whether they are in prison, whether they are abroad, if they are able to help, they should do so because in the physical state in which Dienderé lives, I do not see him in the foreground, He is from Burkina Faso, if he likes this person he can help him while he is in prison.
Will this judgment finally allow you and your family to grieve and perhaps open a new chapter in your story? ?
This trial for us, what we have been waiting for is the truth. What is important for me is that this trial allowed the people of Burkina Faso to find out who Thomas Sankara was, the individual, the politician, what he wanted from this country, and also to understand those who assassinated him, what they wanted, it was for the sake of selfish interests … the insult was eliminated that President Sankara had because he was called an adventurer, a rapist, a renegade, of everything, I personally feel relieved in that aspect because I can say he has been rehabilitated, and that comforts me a lot. It was hard to hear some of the things said, however it calms us down a bit.