On Tuesday, the military court in the capital of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, sentenced former President Blaise Compaoré and nine other defendants to pay more than 800 million CFA francs (1.2 million euros) in damages to the beneficiaries of the former head of state Thomas Sankara and his colleagues who were assassinated in 1987.
The amount of damages for “reparation of moral and economic prejudice” amounts to 807.5 million CFA francs, including “a symbolic franc” for the heirs of Thomas Sankara, said Judge Urbain Méda.
The hefty amount will be paid jointly by Blaise Compaoré, the former commander of his guard Hyacinthe Kafando, the former head of the army in 1987 Gilbert Diendéré, and seven other defendants who were sentenced to between three and twenty years in prison. Compaore, Kafando, and Diendere were handed a life sentence.
The court decision mandated the Burkinabe government to compensate the beneficiaries if the convicted persons are unable to pay the financial sum.
However, the military court rejected a request for the return of Thomas Sankara’s assets to his family.
“We deplore the chamber’s decision not to grant this request for the return of property. With the family of Thomas Sankara, we will decide whether or not to appeal,” said Benewendé Stanislas Sankara, one of the lawyers for the Sankara family.
Thomas Sankara came to power in a coup in 1983. He introduced several social reforms within the country, eventually leading to his popular nickname “Africa’s Che Guevara.” The 37-year-old revolutionary was killed along with twelve of his comrades during a meeting at the headquarters of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR) in Ouagadougou.
Blaise Compaoré has been living in exile in Côte d’Ivoire after he was forcefully removed from office after a citizens’ uprising. He was sentenced in absentia, as has Hyacinthe Kafando, who has been on the run since 2016.