Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaore, the main defendant in the 1987 assassination case of predecessor Thomas Sankara, will not attend his upcoming trial, lawyers said Thursday, days before the trial begins.
“President Blaise Compaore will not be attending the political trial that is being staged against him at the military court of Ouagadougou, nor will we,” lawyers for Compaore said in a statement.
The lawyers, Pierre-Olivier Sur and Abdoul Ouedraogo, said the military tribunal was an “exceptional court” outside common law.
They contended that their client never received a summons to be questioned nor received any formal accusation, except for the summons to attend the trial.
The lawyers also argued that as a former head of state, Compaore “enjoys immunity under Burkina Faso Constitution.”
Compaore and 13 others face multiple counts in the death of Sankara in the trial scheduled for Monday.
Sankara assumed power in 1983 and the following year renamed the country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso.
He was killed Oct. 15, 1987, during a coup led by Compaore, a former ally.
An investigation into the assassination was opened in 2015 under a transitional government and a warrant for Compaore’s arrest was issued the following year.
Compaore, 70, was deposed in 2014 through a popular uprising, after 27 years in power and he fled to Ivory Coast.
He has always denied allegations that he ordered Sankara’s killing.