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A Burkinabe military court sentenced former President Blaise Compaore to life in prison Wednesday over his role in the 1987 murder of Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, France 24 reported.
The court tried the former president in absentia on the charges of attacking state security, concealing a corpse and complicity in Sankara’s murder, which coincided with the 1987 coup that brought Compaore to power.
Compaore fled the country following a popular uprising in 2014 and has been living in exile in the neighboring Ivory Coast ever since.
The tribunal also sentenced to life Compaore’s former head of security, Hyacinthe Kafando, and General Gilbert Diendéré, a commander during the 1987 coup. Diendéré was the main defendant present at the trial.
The former president has denied the allegations and denounced the proceedings as a “political trial.” Even so, Compaore’s government had kept the details of Sankara’s death under wraps, fueling speculation that he was the mastermind.
The case against him only began after his ouster but the proceedings were halted earlier this year following a military coup that deposed elected President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
During the trial, a number of witnesses pointed to an “international conspiracy” that included former colonial power France and Ivory Coast to remove the revolutionary leader.
Sankara remains a folk hero in Burkina Faso, a country with a long history of political unrest currently battling a jihadist insurgency that has killed about 2,000 people and displaced around 1.8 million.
Dubbed “Africa’s Che Guevara,” Sankara came to power in 1983 and is remembered for his progressive policies, such as recognizing the dangers of climate change and desertification, as well as boosting women’s rights.
Sankara is also responsible for renaming the former French colony of Haute-Volta as Burkina Faso, which means “Land of the Honest” or “Upright.”