Burkina Faso arraigns suspected killer of journalist, 17 years after
BURKINA Faso has charged three soldiers to court for the 1998 murder of a journalist, Norbert Zongo, whose killing was viewed as descent to a regime of repression during the long tenure of former President Blaise Compaore.
The charges came a week after a general was charged over the 1987 murder of President Thomas Sankara, giving a further evidence of the transitional government’s determination to pursue high-profile cases associated with the Compaore era.
Diendere, a former intelligence chief for Compaore, was charged by military prosecutors over the killing of Sankara, whose murder is one of the most high-profile political killings in Africa’s post-independence history
It is also an indication of further opening of civil rights space since the exit of Compaore in October 2014 by protesters who opposed his bid to change the constitution so that he could extend his 27-year rule.
Zongo published Burkina Faso’s Independent newspaper and at the time of his death was investigating the murder of a driver who worked for Compaore’s brother. Zongo’s burnt body was found south of the capital. No one has been convicted of the killing.
His death triggered a national crisis and violent protests. An independent commission said the killing could only have been political and proposed reforms including the dissolution of the presidential guard.
A lawyer for the Zongo’s family, Stanislas Bénéwendé Sankara told Reuters that the charged soldiers belonged to the Presidential Guard.
“We want the people of Burkina Faso to know that we are on the road to justice for Norbert Zongo,” said transitional prime minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, while speaking at a ceremony on Saturday to open a road in Ouagadougou named after Zongo.
The presidential guard was dissolved in September after a failed coup led by General Gilbert Diendere in which interim President Michel Kafando was briefly held hostage.
Diendere, a former intelligence chief for Compaore, was charged by military prosecutors over the killing of Sankara, whose murder is one of the most high-profile political killings in Africa’s post-independence history.