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Trial resumes in Burkina Faso over failed 2015 coup

In this April 27, 2017, photo taken at the High Court of Justice in Ouagadougou, Djibril Bassole (L) and General Gilbert Diendere await the opening of the trial.

Media Source: Agence France-Presse

OUAGADOUGOU––The landmark trial over a failed 2015 coup in Burkina Faso resumed in Ouagadougou Wednesday after being suspended three weeks ago when defense lawyers staged a walkout, an AFP correspondent said.

There was a large audience as the hearing opened before a military court which convened at a banqueting hall in Ouaga 2000, an upmarket southern district of the capital.

A total of 84 defendants are on trial over a September 2015 attempt to overthrow the transitional government which took power after President Blaise Compaore was ousted a year earlier.

Behind the coup was an elite unite of presidential guards loyal to Compaore who took the country’s leaders hostage before being thwarted by street protesters backed by the army, which attacked the plotters’ barracks.

Fourteen people died and 270 were injured in the unrest.

The defendants are being tried on a range of charges including treason, undermining state security and murder in a case seen as a test for the judiciary in the West African country.

Among them are two generals thought to be the ringleaders: Gilbert Diendere and Djibrill Bassole, who also served as foreign minister under Compaore.

The trial opened on February 27, only to be suspended just hours later when the defense team walked out in protest over the legality of the military court, which is made up of two professional magistrates and three soldiers sitting as assessors.

Authorities in Burkina Faso have also charged the general who led a failed coup in September with complicity in the 1987 assassination of President Thomas Sankara. Sankara’s murder, one of the most high-profile killings in Africa’s post-independence history.

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