Burkina coup leader charged with murder

  • 08/12/2015
General Gilbert Diendere (Reuters)
General Gilbert Diendere (Reuters)

General Gilbert Diendere, leader of a failed September coup in Burkina Faso, has been charged with murder in connection with the death of the country's former leader, an official at the military prosecutor's office says.

He was charged as part of a probe into the mysterious death in 1987 of Thomas Sankara, a revolutionary figure who is still a hero to many in west Africa. He was killed, along with 12 others, during a coup that brought his former military comrade Blaise Compaore to power.

Prosecutors say Diendere "was charged on November 12 in the Sankara case," and has been charged with "carrying out attacks, murder and concealing a body".

Diendere, who was chief-of-staff under Compaore, mounted a putsch on September 17, using crack troops from a presidential guard loyal to the ousted head of state.

The coup was thwarted by street protesters and by support from the army, which attacked the plotters' barracks. At least 11 people were killed and 271 were injured in the demonstrations.

The fate of Sankara – dubbed "Africa's Che Guevara" by admirers – was a taboo subject in Burkina Faso for 27 years until Compaore's overthrow.

According to his death certificate, the 37-year-old former army captain died of "natural causes".

But according to several witnesses, he was killed by a group of soldiers at the seat of government while wearing a tracksuit, having made Thursdays a compulsory day of sport for the masses.