Blaise Compaore, the former president of Burkina Faso, was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday, April 6, for his role in the coup that killed his predecessor, Thomas Sankara, in 1987.
Sankara, a famous Marxist revolutionary, was assassinated at the age of 37 in the West African nation’s capital, Ouagadougou, four years after taking office in the coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power in 1987.
Compaore and his former director of security, Hyacinthe Kafando, were charged in his absence and condemned to life in jail.
Both have previously denied any role in Sankara’s death, as have the other 12 suspects charged in the conspiracy, three of whom were found not guilty on Wednesday.
In its verdict, the tribunal stated, “The court finds Blaise Compaoré and Hyacinthe Kafando guilty of attack on state security, collaboration in murder, and concealing of a corpse.”
Compaore ruled for 27 years before being deposed in a coup in 2014 and escaping to the Ivory Coast, where he is currently thought to be hiding.
Sankara came to office on a commitment to fight corruption and post-colonial influences, and he denounced foreign aid as a means of control.
He implemented mass polio immunization, outlawed female circumcision and polygamy, and was one of the first African leaders to officially acknowledge the continent’s AIDS epidemic as a concern.
Sankara, a former fighter pilot, gained public support in the impoverished country by selling a government fleet of Mercedes, cutting the salaries of well-paid government employees, and prohibiting first-class official travel.
He slashed his own pay, refused to work with air conditioning, and jogged alone through Ouagadougou.