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Burkina prosecutors seek 30 years for Compaore over Sankara murder

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CHIP SOMODEVILLA/2014 Getty Images

Burkina Faso

Military Prosecutors in Burkina Faso on Tuesday requested a 30-year prison term for former President Blaise Compaoré, for the 1987 murder of his predecessor, revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara.

A trial was launched into the killing last year after French authorities finally agreed to release military documents giving details of the circumstances of his death.

The closely-followed trial is almost at its climax as the West African nation reels from its latest coup, following popular anger over jihadist attacks.

Prosecutors asked the military court, where he is supposed to stand trial, to find Mr Compaoré guilty in absentia of an "attack on state security", "concealment of a corpse" and "complicity in a murder", accusing him of being the main sponsor behind the killing of Sankara and 12 of his colleagues.

The prosecution is also seeking:

• 30 years in jail for Hyacinth Kafando - who is suspected of having led the commando that murdered Thomas Sankara and his companions

• 20 years in jail for Gilbert Dienderé - the main defendant present at the trial and one of the army commanders during the 1987 coup. He is already serving a 20-year sentence over an attempted military coup in 2015.

The trial was then adjourned until March 1 based on a request by the defence.

The former president was Sankara's close friend and denies any role in his death.

Sankara was an army captain when he came to power in a coup in 1983 at the age of 33.

The fiery Marxist-Leninist railed against imperialism and colonialism, often angering Western leaders but gaining followers across the continent and beyond.

He and 12 colleagues were gunned down by a hit squad on October 15, 1987, at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.

Their assassination coincided with a coup that brought Sankara's former comrade-in-arms, Compaore, to power.

Compaore ruled for 27 years before being deposed by a popular uprising in 2014 and fleeing to the neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Fourteen people stand accused in the trial, 12 of them appearing in court. Most pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution also requested 30 years in jail for the commander of Compaore's presidential guard, Hyacinthe Kafando, who is suspected of having led the hit squad. He is also being tried in absentia.

It sought a 20-year sentence for Gilbert Diendere, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant present at the trial.

He is already serving a 20-year sentence over an attempted military coup in 2015.

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