Since 1902

Burkina Faso's ex-president Compaore handed life sentence in absentia over Sankara murder

By Reuters - April 8th 2022
Supporters of former President Thomas Sankara are seen in front of a portrait of the late president as they gather at his memorial site,  April 6, 2022. [Reuters]

He rolled out mass vaccination against polio, banned female circumcision and polygamy, and was one of the first African leaders to publicly recognise the growing AIDS epidemic as a threat for the continent.

A former fighter pilot, Sankara won public support in the impoverished nation by selling a government fleet of Mercedes, lowering the pay of well-off public servants and forbidding first-class state travel.

He cut his own salary, refused to work with air conditioning and jogged through Ouagadougou unaccompanied.

Critics say his reforms curtailed freedoms and did little to enrich ordinary people. But admiration remains and justice has been long-awaited by Sankara's family and supporters.

"I think Burkinabe know now who Thomas Sankara was... what he wanted and what those who assassinated him wanted too," said Sankara's widow, Mariam Sankara, speaking at the courthouse.

A procession and gathering are planned later in the day at the spot Sankara was shot, where a statue of him now stands.

"Today I am very proud to see the culmination of a legal battle of almost 30 years, proud to have a country where justice works," said Guy Herve Kam, a lawyer for Sankara's family.

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