A military court in Burkina Faso on Wednesday handed down a life term to former president Blaise Compaore over the 1987 assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara.
Life terms were also handed to Hyacinthe Kafando, an officer suspected of having led the hit squad, and General Gilbert Diendere, an army commander at the time of the assassination, which coincided with a coup that brought Compaore to power.
Compaore, who lives in exile in Ivory Coast after being toppled by public protests in 2014, and Kafando, who has been on the run since 2016, were tried in absentia.
The six-month trial, which was punctuated by a coup d’etat in January, brings the curtain down on a 34-year saga.
The case has been avidly followed by many in the landlocked Sahel state, for whom Sankara’s assassination remains a dark blot on the country’s history.
A fiery Marxist-Leninist who blasted the West for neo-colonialism and hypocrisy, Sankara was gunned down on October 15 1987, little more than four years after coming to power as an army captain aged just 33.
He and 12 colleagues were shot dead by a hit squad at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.
The death of the left-wing icon remained shrouded in mystery throughout the Compaore’s 27-year reign.
The court in the capital Ouagadougou found Compaore, Kafando and Diendere all guilty of harming state security.
Compaore and Diendere were also found guilty of complicity in murder, and Kafando of murder.
Their sentences exceeded the request of military prosecutors, who had sought a 30-year term against Compaore and Kafando and a 20-year term against Diendere.
Applause broke out in the courtroom when the verdict was pronounced, an AFP journalist reported.
Eight other accused were given jail terms ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.