Burkina Faso Begins Exhuming Grave of Killed Leader Sankara

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Burkina Faso is exhuming the grave of former president Thomas Sankara as part of an investigation into his 1987 assassination.

“We want to know if it’s actually him who is buried there, or someone else,” Ambroise Farama, a lawyer for Sankara’s family, said by phone Tuesday from the capital, Ouagadougou.

Justice officials on Monday first exhumed the graves of two of Sankara’s aides who were killed on the same day and are buried in the same cemetery in Ouagadougou, Farama said.

Sankara was a left-wing army captain who seized power in a 1983 coup and led the country for four years until his murder at the age of 37. Burkina Faso’s transitional government has reopened the case of his murder, which remains unresolved.

Former ruler Blaise Compaore, who fled the country last year after three decades in power, blocked all attempts to investigate the killing of his one-time comrade.

Sankara is still admired in West Africa for his policies such as promoting women and improving health and education, and held up as an example of a leader by a generation of Burkinabe born after he died. Critics, including Amnesty International, say he abused military rule by imprisoning union leaders without trial.

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