Burkina Faso began yesterday the trial of 84 people including 66 military officials and 18 civilians accused of masterminding a 2015 coup attempt, with the nation’s capital under tight security.
Former presidential aides Gen. Gilbert Diendere and Gen. Djibril Bassole are among those facing a military tribunal. They face a variety of charges including treason, undermining state security and murder over the coup launched in September 2015 by Compaore’s old presidential guard against the transitional government that took power after the veteran leader’s fall.
Fourteen people died and 270 were injured in the unrest. Hundreds of security forces were deployed around the court building. The trial, however, was suspended by the military tribunal president yesterday afternoon after defense lawyers walked out of the court, arguing against irregularities in the trial, and that a military tribunal wasn’t independent enough to judge the accused.
Some of the victims burst into tears as they learned the trial has been suspended and no date has been set up for its reopening. “The president should have continued with the proceedings to set up the jury before suspending the trial,” said Seraphin Some, a lawyer for the victims.
Earlier, Chrizogome Zougmore, chairman of a local human rights group, had said: “This is a real test for the credibility of the justice system in our country always accused of favoring the political system in place.”
Diendere briefly took power after the presidential guard (known as the RSP) under his command staged a coup of the transitional government in September 2015. He stepped down days later under pressure from the regional bloc, Burkina Faso’s military and protesting citizens. He and others now face life in prison for charges including conspiracy against the state, murder and beatings.
Bassole, a former foreign affairs minister, is accused of treason. Many of the others accused are former soldiers in the presidential guard.
“This trial is not only a historic event, it is truly another victory against the retrograde and anti-democratic forces who have always plotted to prevent truth to prevail,” said the civil society organization Citizen Broom, which played a key role in the resistance against the attempted coup.