28 February 2018

Burkina Faso: 2015 Coup in Burkina Faso - Trial of Suspects Begins

Burkina Faso citizens are keenly watching the unfolding of the marathon trial of 84 people accused of involvement in the September 15, 2015 military attempt to unseat the transitional government put in place following the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré after mass street protests.

He was forced out of power on October 31, 2014 after a 27-year reign. The trial, which is expected to last months, opened on February 27, 2018 before a military tribunal sitting in Ouaga 2000, a posh neighbourhood of the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou. Amongst the accused are two former army generals - Gilbert Diendéré, ex-commander of the elite Presidential Security Regiment and Djibrill Bassolé, President Compaoré's Foreign Minister.

Most of the accused are soldiers from the defunct elite Presidential Security Regiment. Charges against the 84 suspects span over 15,000 pages, reporters covering the trial cited judicial sources as saying. They are more than 300 civil claimants and 45 witnesses.

The suspects are variously charged with treason, attacks on State security, murder and inadvertently causing wounds. In addition, Gen. Diendéré is charged with assassination and illegal possession of corpses.

While Gen. Bassolé is accused of treason based on a recorded telephone conversation he supposedly had with the Speaker of Côte d'Ivoire National Assembly, Guillaume Soro. The recording suggests Djibrill Bassolé's support for the failed coup.

Ever since the misadventure, Diendéré has maintained that he knew nothing of the putsch and that it was the handiwork of Non-commissioned Officers. He claims he only took over command of the troops to prevent a bloodbath.

A member of his defence team, Barrister Mathieu Somé, said the former general was also asking for senior military officials to appear before the tribunal as witnesses, as well as President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and ex-Transitional President Michel Kafando. Meanwhile, Guillaume Soro will not be a witness in the trial as the prosecution last year cancelled an arrest warrant against him.

Also absent are Michel Kafando and Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, former Deputy Commander of President Security Regiment and ex-Prime Minister of the transitional government. Kafando is now UN Special Envoy to Burundi, while Zida now lives in Canada.

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