15 May 2017

Burkina Faso: Trial of Ex-Leader Blaise Compaore Under Way

Photo: L'Observateur Paalga
Former Burkinabé president Blaise Compaoré.

A closely-watched trial of Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore, former president, and members of his cabinet is under way in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Compaore, who fled to neighbouring Ivory Coast during a popular revolt in 2014 against his attempts to change the constitution and extend his 27-year-rule, is being tried in absentia.

Along with 34 ex-government ministers, Compaore faces assassination charges for allegedly authorising the use of force against unarmed protesters during the uprising that toppled him, killing at least 24 people.

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting on Monday from outside the court in Ouagadougou, said defence lawyers had launched an appeal questioning the format of the trial.

"The judges who were nominated by the national assembly are in fact politicians belonging to the ruling party," he said, adding that a separate appeal had also been launched by the lawyers of the victims.

"They [victims] say they want to be represented in this trial - at the moment they are not, as they are being represented by the prosecution," Haque said.

'Important moment'

Some Burkinabes say they are disappointed that the post-Compaore government led by Roch Marc Kabore has not delivered on its reform pledges and express regret at Compaore's absence.

Still, they welcomed the opening of the trial - the first in a series of cases being investigated to be brought to trial.

"What most people here want is to see Compaore himself to take part in this trial," Haque said.

"So it's really an important moment for people in Burkina Faso - not only for justice but also to record the history of actually what happened during that uprising in October 2014."

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