Burkina Faso charges three soldiers with murder of journalist

Shoe repairman Martin Yoda poses with a picture on his cell phone of his late ...
Shoe repairman Martin Yoda poses with a picture on his cell phone of his late brother Issou Yoda, in the ransacked former residence of Francois Compaore in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/JOE PENNEY/FILES

Authorities in Burkina Faso have charged three soldiers over the murder in 1998 of journalist Norbert Zongo whose killing became a symbol of repression during veteran President Blaise Compaore’s rule.

The charges come a week after a general was charged over the murder in 1987 of President Thomas Sankara and provide further evidence of the transitional government’s determination to pursue high-profile cases associated with the Compaore era.

Burkina Faso’s democratic transition is seen as an example for other African states. Former Prime Minister Roch Marc Kabore was elected president last month and once sworn in, will be the country’s first new leader in decades.

Zongo published Burkina Faso’s Independent newspaper and at the time of his death was investigating the murder of a driver who worked for Compaore’s brother. Zongo’s burned body was found south of the capital. No one has been convicted for the killing.

The soldiers who have been charged with his murder belonged to the recently disbanded elite presidential guard, a lawyer for Zongo’s family, Stanislas Bénéwendé Sankara, told Reuters on Saturday.

“These three soldiers are being charged with the murder of Norbert Zongo but the matter could move forward with other people charged,” the lawyer said. The chief prosecutor declined to comment.

The presidential guard was dissolved in September after staging a failed coup led by General Gilbert Diendere in which interim President Michel Kafando was briefly held hostage.

Diendere, a former intelligence chief for Compaore, was charged with Sankara’s killing. Compaore was toppled in October 2014 by protesters who opposed his bid to change the constitution so that he could extend his rule.

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