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France cancels François Compaoré's extradition decree

France cancels François Compaoré's extradition decree
In this photo taken on 20 December 2012, François Compaoré, brother of deposed Burkina   -  
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AHMED OUOBA/AFP or licensors


France has revoked the ministerial decree authorising the extradition in 2020 of the brother of former president Blaise Compaoré, Paul François Compaoré, to Burkina Faso, where he is accused of the murder of a journalist in 1998, the Chancellery said on Thursday.

"The decree was repealed on 13 December", announced the president of the Paris Court of Appeal extradition chamber at a Wednesday hearing on the lifting of the judicial supervision of Mr Compaoré ordered in 2017 as part of the extradition procedure.

The repeal of Mr Compaoré's extradition "followed the ruling of the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) on 7 September 2023, which found a violation of Article 3 in the event of the applicant's extradition to Burkina Faso", the Ministry of Justice summarised. This article of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The repeal decree, signed by the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, is a rare act, noted two sources close to the case. Mr Compaoré's lawyers, Clara Gérard-Rodriguez and Pierre-Olivier Sur, did not wish to comment.

Paul François Compaoré, the younger brother of the former president of Burkina Faso (1991-2014) and one of his close advisers, is being prosecuted in Burkina Faso for the murder of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo and three men accompanying him on 13 December 1998.

He had been arrested on 29 October 2017 at Roissy airport, near Paris, in execution of an international arrest warrant issued by Ouagadougou.

Burkina had asked France for his extradition, subsequently assuring that even if Mr Compaoré was sentenced to death by an independent court, the sentence would not be carried out. Released under judicial supervision on 30 October 2017, Mr Compaoré, who lives in France, has lodged a number of appeals.

The courts authorised his extradition in 2018, then a ministerial decree was signed in 2020, validated by the Council of State in 2021. However, on 7 September, the ECHR, acting on behalf of Mr Compaoré's defence, ruled that France should re-examine the decree.

"The context has changed", noted the president of the extradition chamber, referring to the two successive coups d'état in the country in 2022. Wearing a navy blue suit, Paul François Compaoré did not wish to speak at the brief hearing.

His lawyer, Clara Gérard-Rodriguez, pointed out that "Mr Compaoré has constantly contested his extradition", which entailed "serious risks for his fundamental rights".

"He no longer has any proceedings underway" and there is no justification for placing him under judicial supervision, she added.

Relations between France and Burkina Faso have deteriorated considerably since Captain Ibrahim Traoré came to power in a coup d'état in September 2022.

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