Magazine article New Internationalist

Murder Exhumed: African Hero's Assassination Finally under Scrutiny

Magazine article New Internationalist

Murder Exhumed: African Hero's Assassination Finally under Scrutiny

Article excerpt

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The murder of former Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara in 1987 is at last being considered by the country's courts - though they may still strangle a proper investigation at birth. Four years ago Sankara's widow Mariam filed an action in the common-law courts seeking an investigation that would identify those responsible for the assassination. The State has tried to ensure throughout that the case would be heard in military courts (in conditions of complete secrecy) rather than in open court in full scrutiny - and Mariam Sankara's appeal against this to the Supreme Court, backed by an international team of lawyers, is now to be heard on 15 May, just after we go to press.

Thomas Sankara was one of the most principled, radical and charismatic leaders Africa has ever produced. His four years as President of Burkina Faso (1983-87) were unique in their attempt to chart a revolutionary development course that put the rural poor first (see NI 179, 268, 323). His personal probity was legendary: he refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxury was unavailable to any but a handful of Burkinabes. …

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