” Lhe fact that this trial could take place is a great relief. On several occasions, Mr.and Prosper Farama repeated this sentence in his argument. As if he was still pinching himself to believe it. Thirty-four years after the assassination of Thomas Sankara and 12 of his companions, the judgment of the 14 defendants is finally approaching. This Monday morning, the lawyer for the civil parties, whose career began with this case in 1997, had the task of “showing the particular involvement” of General Gilbert Diendéré, loyal ally of Blaise Compaoré, in the bloody coup State of October 15, 1987. But counsel also dwelt on the meaning of this historic trial, which opened on October 11 before the trial chamber of the Ouagadougou military court. A trial sometimes decried, and little attended in the past four months – with an often half-empty courtroom – in a context of security and political tensions.
“We were told: ‘What’s the point of holding this trial? No truth will come out of it.’ But this trial is a great history book of Burkina Faso. (…) We were told: “We are societies that forgive in Africa.” But forgive whom? Who asked for forgiveness in this affair, who confessed, who repented? No one. (…) It was said that this trial was a confrontation between Sankarists and Blaisists. is neither revenge nor revenge. Thomas Sankara has raised the name of Burkina Faso in the world, he has restored dignity to his people. He has become a hero. And we owe to a hero, at least, the truth about his execution, ”said Mand Farama facing the court, in a form of plea for justice.
The “three cardinal men” of the 1987 coup
And to recall the particularity of this “coup de force” led “by friends, comrades”, which marked the history of Faso. “Since 1966, coups have followed one another in this country. The Burkinabés have ended up getting used to it, they know the ritual. Shots fired, taking radio and television, running in the streets for shelter… But what happened on October 15, 1987 was a new way of doing things. With hatred, verbal violence. An allusion to the statement read on the radio that Thursday around 6 p.m., less than two hours after the execution of the President of Faso. The Popular Front led by Blaise Compaoré announces that it has decided to “put an end to the autocratic power of Thomas Sankara, to stop the process of neocolonial restoration”. Sankara, incarnation of the democratic and popular revolution born in 1983, is described there as a “renegade” who led Burkina “to total chaos”.
Barely lowering his eyes to his notes, Farama continues, sober and striking: “There are three cardinal men in this case: Blaise Compaoré (accused of attack on state security, complicity in assassination, concealment of corpse and tried in absentia), Hyacinthe Kafando (accused of attack on state security and assassination, fugitive) and Gilbert Diendéré (accused of attack on state security, complicity in assassination, concealment corpse and witness tampering). The first, overthrown by a popular uprising in October 2014, “enjoyed all the delights of power for twenty-seven years”, according to the lawyer. “Cold in image and cold in action”, he led “a violent regime”, “a quasi-dictatorship, beyond autocracy”. The second became after the coup “God after God, not to say the devil after God”, “capable of killing for nothing”, breathes Mand Farama. He finally arrives in Diendéré, installed from the start of the pleadings with his 11 co-defendants at one end of the platform where the court sits.
“General Diendéré is Compaoré’s military sponsor. His eyes, his ears. He ensured the security of the regime infallibly, continues the council. He is calm, mastery. In a few ways, he’s likable. (…) A very intelligent man. But, like everyone else, he has flaws. And he has a hard time with responsibility. And to cite homicides involving elements under the responsibility of Diendéré, who in 1995 became the boss of the formidable presidential security regiment (RSP). “Every time we questioned him, he said he was not responsible. »
Diendéré “secured” the assassination
On October 15, 1987, Thomas Sankara and his twelve comrades were “blow up”, according to the term of several witnesses, by a commando made up of members of Blaise Compaoré’s close security. At that time, they were under the responsibility of Gilbert Diendéré, who controlled a hundred men at the Conseil de l’Entente, the seat of revolutionary power and the scene of the crime. In his version of the facts, Diendéré says he organized a meeting on the morning of the crime to ease the tensions between the elements of the close security of Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaoré. At the time of the shooting, he was, he added, on a sports field, a few hundred meters from the Council of the Entente. “But what do the witnesses tell us? That no resolution was taken at this meeting. (…) That there was then a second meeting on October 15 at the Council of the Entente during which Gilbert Diendéré informed of an assassination plot against Blaise Compaoré scheduled for 8 p.m., and that Thomas had to be arrested Sankara to prevent it”, mocks Mand Farama.
As for his alibi, “he makes fun of our intelligence”, he sweeps. “No one saw him, neither at the sports field nor leaving or returning to the Council of the Entente. I had launched a call for witnesses. On the other hand, so many witnesses saw him at the scene of the crime. “At the end of a three-hour pleading which caught the audience of the Ouagadougou banquet hall, Mr.and Farama estimated that Gilbert Diendéré had “organized, participated, facilitated, helped” to commit the assassination of Thomas Sankara. Above all, he noted, “he did nothing to prevent this assassination, when he had the capacity to do so. (…). (But) he brought in reinforcements. (…) He asked to close all the exits from Ouagadougou. He secured the operation.
“Smoky thesis of the 8 p.m. conspiracy”
The pleadings of the civil parties lasted two and a half days. This Thursday, November 3, Mand Anta Guissé, lawyer at the Paris bar, focused on another of the twelve defendants present, Jean-Pierre Palm. And his first words are spicy: “There is often an arrogance in him, a certain nonchalance in his speeches at the bar. We see him slumped, slumped as if he were on a sofa in his living room, and not in front of a courtyard. Captain in the gendarmerie at the time of the events, Jean-Pierre Palm, accused of complicity in an attack on state security, was close to the four captains of the revolution. And especially Blaise Compaoré, number two, note Mand Guissé: “Jean-Pierre Palm wet his shirt to help Blaise Compaoré take power, to make arrests before, during and after the attack. According to her, he was also active “in the dissemination of the smoky thesis of a plot of 20 hours” supposedly hatched by Sankara.
A month after the killing, on November 16, 1987, Jean-Pierre Palm was appointed Chief of Staff of the Gendarmerie. In the 20,000-page file, and a little more timidly at the helm, witnesses mentioned the visit of “whites” who had come to inspect the telephone tapping system at the direction of the gendarmerie, and to order arrests. Without corroborating these versions, Jean-Pierre Palm had himself admitted at the helm to have welcomed a French mission “sent by the presidency”. “He took care of erasing the traces of compromising wiretaps (mentioning the Sankara assassination plot), he had links with the DGSE. (…) And there, we are obliged to note the irony. The new regime accuses Thomas Sankara of neocolonial restoration. But sends in the most secret services of Burkina Faso of the French. Down with colonialism, down”, half-joking, half-dismayed charge, Mand Guisse.
France, Ivory Coast and Libya as “guarantees” for Blaise
Mand Ferdinand Nzepa, lawyer for Mariam Sankara, meanwhile opened the ball of pleadings this Wednesday, February 2 by brushing the context of the assassination. Regretting, first, that Blaise Compaoré, exiled in Côte d’Ivoire and now a national of this country, did not have “the courage to face his destiny so that the history of Burkina Faso is not written dotted “. “We would have liked at least for him to ask forgiveness, for him to hear old Joseph, father of Thomas Sankara, who said: “I risk dying one day without seeing Thomas’s grave, because Blaise is not coming. They were both my children. One killed the other. I have a right to know what happened.” Joseph Sankara died in 2006 and Blaise Compaoré preferred to flee. »
The lawyer at the Toulouse bar, gray-blue sneakers extending his black dress, then “listed the insurance of Blaise Compaoré inside and outside the country” in his plan to eliminate Sankara. At the national level, Compaoré could count on “General Diendéré, Jean Pierre Palm in the gendarmerie”, he also had support in political parties and with religious leaders, according to Mr.and Nzepa. Internationally, the revolutionary Sankara had few allies. Including in Africa. Among Burkina Faso’s direct neighbours, only the Ghanaian president – and friend – Rawlings has given him unwavering support.
Mand Nzepa first examines Thomas Sankara’s “very special” relations with the former colonial power. “He was not anti-French, but he wanted France to treat his country with respect. It is about the Franco-African summit of Vittel in October 1983, where Thomas Sankara takes the fly by noting that there is no high-level delegation to welcome him. He ends up turning back. “He did not let himself be stepped on”, punctuates Mand Nzepa. There is also talk of Sankara’s speech during François Mitterrand’s visit to Ouagadougou on November 17, 1986. “It is not the soothing speech of an Eyadema or a Houphouët-Boigny. No, Thomas Sankara criticizes François Mitterrand for his behavior vis-à-vis the representatives of the South African racist regime. Finally, it comes to New Caledonia. On December 2, 1986, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the re-registration of New Caledonia on the list of non-self-governing territories, and therefore its right to become independent. Burkina Faso is favorable, and stands out in French-speaking Africa. “We are in full cohabitation, Jacques Chirac is Prime Minister. He had surrounded himself with tough guys like (Michel) Pasqua (Minister of the Interior), (Bernard) Pons (Minister of Overseas Departments and Territories), recalls Mand Nzepa. They will say it is an affront. »
The Council is also interested in Côte d’Ivoire, “the pivot of Françafrique”. “I quote Basile Guissou, ex-member of the National Council of the Revolution: “We bothered everyone. We had said that President Thomas Sankara would no longer receive orders from Abidjan but would go directly through Paris, Houphouët did not like that. An agent from the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance also testified that the Burkinabe services had foiled three coups against Sankara fomented from Côte d’Ivoire. Abidjan was therefore not very insensitive to what could happen to Thomas Sankara. “And to close his demonstration with Libya:” At the beginning, it worked well. Until Thomas Sankara realizes the intentions of the Libyan Guide. In particular, his wish to install an Islamic legion in Ouagadougou. Sankara refused to allow Burkina Faso to become a rear base to attack other African countries, as witnesses testified.
“Blaise Compaoré wanted to be number one, it was perhaps the obsession of his whole life, concludes Mand Ferdinand Nzepa. He suffered from sankarite: “A complex vis-à-vis someone extremely charismatic, who takes up all the space. Blaise was in his shadow, it gave him pimples. »
The international aspect of the investigation has been severed from the file, and should in principle be the subject of a new trial.