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Burkinabe ex-president charged in Sankara murder

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A military court in Burkina Faso’s capital has indicted former president Blaise Compaore in connection to the 1987 murder of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.

A statement issued by the court on Tuesday cited “complicity in the assassination” and an “attack on state security” by Compaore, who ruled the country until 2014, when he was forced to resign in the face of mass demonstrations against an attempt to extend his 27-year rule.

Thirteen others – including Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s right hand man, and Hyacinthe Kafando, his security chief – were also indicted on charges ranging from “assassination” to “concealment of corpses”.

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Benewende Stanislas Sankara, a lawyer representing the relatives of the slain former president, described the indictment as “a victory and a step in the right direction”.

“It’s with a sigh of relief the family can now go ahead with all the guarantees that surround Burkinabe justice,” he told Al Jazeera. “We can now calmly go to trial.”

Burkina Faso’s communications minister said an official government statement on the indictment will likely be issued on Wednesday. Eddie Komboigo, leader of the Compaore-founded Congress for Democracy and Progress party, declined to comment on the court’s announcement.

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Compaore, who has been in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast since 2014, has always denied involvement in Sankara’s assassination.

Many Burkinabes regard Sankara as a national hero. A prominent pan-Africanist, he is sometimes also referred to as the continent’s “Che Guevera”, in reference to the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who led a number of armed struggles, including in Cuba.—Al Jazeera

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