French MP demands trial of Thomas Sankara assassinsBy TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW | Friday, February 15 2013 at 10:33
A member of the French parliament is urging his country to put pressure on Burkina Faso to bring to trial those believed to be linked to the 1987 assassination of President Thomas Sankara.
The demand is a follow-up of a letter from 12 Burkinabe MPs who two years ago requested the French National Assembly to open an inquiry into the assassination of the charismatic leader.
“It is time for France to heed the call,” said André Chassaigne, a left-wing French MP said this week.
“An inquiry would be good for France, too,” he insisted, adding that it would go a long way in improving democracy and relations between France and its former colonies.
Mr Chassaigne says such a commission of inquiry should thoroughly investigate the Burkinabe coup that brought Blaise Compaoré to power, and was reportedly supported by Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Libya, the US and France.
“France must tell the truth and refrain from behaving differently towards Africa,” he said.
Some months back, Mr Bénéwendé Sankara, the defence lawyer of the slain Burkinabé president, said he had irrevocable evidence concerning those who assassinated Thomas Sankara.
On 28 June 2012, the Supreme Court in Ouagadougou ruled that the assassination case filed by the slain leader’s wife Mariam Sankara and a son could be prosecuted under local jurisprudence.
The belated decision came after a long legal tussle that went back to two decades, with the case previously getting outrightly rejected or postponed interminably.
At the time of the 1987 coup, Compaoré was also a captain in the army and the second-in-command to fellow captain Sankara.
Sankara took power in a coup in 1983 and ushered in a veritable “people power” revolution. He became an iconic figure adored by ordinary Burkinabes because of his common touch and incorruptibility.
Analysts believe that was anticipation of a possible trial that President Compaoré’s government, not too long ago, fudged and pushed for a blanket amnesty for all of the country’s leaders since independence in 1960.
The parliament in Burkina Faso, which Compaoré controls, voted for the amnesty that covers immunity from prosecution.
The move will also affect former leaders Saye Zerbo, who served from 1980-82, and Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo, in power from 1982-83.
Both came to power following coups.
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