Former Burkina Faso's president Compaore sentenced to life in prison over Sankara murder

Former Burkina Faso president, Blaise Compaore, in New York September 26, 2013. [Reuters]

Burkina Faso's former president Blaise Compaore was sentenced to life imprisonment for complicity in the 1987 murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankara, a military tribunal ruled on Wednesday.

The charismatic Marxist revolutionary was infamously gunned down in the West African nation's capital Ouagadougou at the age of 37, four years after he took power in a previous putsch.

Compaore was charged in absentia along with his former head of security Hyacinthe Kafando, who was also sentenced to life imprisonment.

Both have previously denied any involvement in Sankara's death.

The former president went on to rule for 27 years before being ousted in another coup in 2014 and fleeing to Ivory Coast.

Sankara and his 12 colleagues were gunned down by the hit squad during a meeting at the presidential palace in Ouagadougou. 

Following his assassination, his close friend, Compaoré, came to power and went on to rule the West African nation for almost three decades before he himself was ousted and fled to neighbouring Ivory Coast.

During his time in leadership, Compaoré denied calls for Sankara's remains to be exhumed, but the Country's transitional government reopened the investigation in 2015.

An arrest warrant was issued against Compaoré in 2016 by Burkinabe authorities.

However, Ivorian authorities rejected the extradiction requests. A military tribunal charged Compaore with complicity in the assassination, undermining state security and receiving cadavers.

Sankara, who seized power during the 1983 coup at the age of 33, was a revered leader who had pledged to “decolonise African minds" and tackle corruption.

He won public support after reducing his own salary, and that of all public servants, banning the use of government chauffeurs and first-class airline tickets.