Capcov: As a lawyer for the Sankara family, how do you react to the return of Blaise Compaoré, sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the assassination of the former Burkinabè president?
Me Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara: We, lawyers for the civil parties and the thirteen families and heirs of Thomas Sankara, are waiting for the law to be applied in all its rigor against Blaise Compaoré. A decision, handed down on April 6, condemns him to life imprisonment and the judgment of the military tribunal reiterated the international arrest warrant issued against him.
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As a lawyer, I ask that this warrant be purely and simply executed. Force must remain with the law. Blaise Compaoré evaded justice in what is now his former country, since he obtained Ivorian nationality. And as he returned to Burkina, he must, in accordance with the legal provisions, be arrested and brought before the military justice.
But he was not arrested when he arrived…
This is because politics and the military have taken over legality. This is called a coup de force. For me, it is even a forfeiture and a denial of justice. When sworn in after his January 24 coup, President Damiba promised to uphold the law and restore the Constitution. By not having Blaise Compaoré arrested, he is guilty of perjury.
The junta says it is an act of reconciliation. You do not agree ?
No way. The announcement of the arrival of Blaise Compaoré has also deeply divided the Burkinabè and exacerbated the divisions within the population. It’s definitely not the best alibi.
What are you asking for in these conditions?
Let justice be done. No one is against reconciliation, but it must obey the principles of truth and justice. Blaise Compaoré himself said he wanted to work for reconciliation by establishing, in March 2001, a national day of forgiveness. But it was a fiasco. Reconciliation is not a straitjacket.
What can the meeting of former heads of state Blaise Compaoré, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Michel Kafando and Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo with President Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba bring?
They can meet as many times as they want, there will be no result. I don’t see anything in it except as a communication stunt for the junta. It is the people who need to be reconciled, it is with them that we must address these issues. Reconciliation is not a matter that we does not evoke than at the top.
How do you view the management of the transition by the military?
When they took power at the end of January, they held strong rhetoric and affirmed that they were there to restore territorial integrity, rebuild the state and consolidate democratic gains. But we got none of that. I see in it a vast military-political betrayal.
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As for the results of the past six months, you should know that a recent survey gives the score of 4 out of 20 to President Damiba. This is a serious setback. In terms of security, attacks are daily. We have the impression that the big cities are caught in a vice, that the roads are cut off. Psychosis has won over all Burkinabè. But what interests power is to bring Blaise Compaoré back.
Critics of President Kaboré argue that he was no more able to contain the jihadist violence…
Yes, but the fight against insecurity was the responsibility of the army, which had all the means. We had voted the military programming law, endowed with an envelope of 750 billion CFA francs. The army even had difficulty in consuming its budgetary appropriations. I think she did not play fair and that Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was betrayed.
Did the junta make a mistake by sidelining the political class?
It’s more than a mistake. The political class is in essence the lifeblood of democracy.
The former presidential majority, of which you are a member, met President Kaboré, who is now free. How did you find it?
He is a man who remained serene. He regrets the loneliness imposed on him by his imprisonment for the past few months, but he was happy to see us and thanked us for fighting to on freedom.