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Remains of Burkina Faso Leader Being Exhumed

FILE - Former President Thomas Sankara.

Authorities in Burkina Faso are exhuming the remains of former President Thomas Sankara and 12 of his colleagues, 28 years after they were killed during a 1987 coup.

Younger brother Paul Sankara said the exhumation will answer a number of key questions, including how Sankara was killed, who killed him, and where he is buried.

The body is believed to be buried in a cemetery in Ouagadougou, but the family said it hasn’t seen the body since the assassination.

Sankara said, once these questions are answered, then those responsible for his brother’s death will have to answer for it.

“The exhumation of the bodies is one part of the process. The most important thing is to define who, where and how Thomas was assassinated. The exhumations would be some evidence, proof, that indeed the remains of Thomas’ body is in a given grave because no one in the large African family has seen the body of Thomas,” he said

He said forensic might help in determining who assassinated his brother and, once that is determined, then the family will seek justice and reconciliation.

“First, we will find who assassinated him in October 1987, and where it occurred, how, and then somebody, or people, [will] have to respond to the justice. The DNA process through exhumation will help to get to the bottom. The whole point is to have truth, justice and, eventually, reconciliation. Without that, it won’t be possible,” he said.

He said the demand for justice for Sankara is being made not only by his biological or political family, but his entire African and global family.

“People in Africa and out of Africa have been working, supporting voluntarily the family to get this job done,” he said.

Paul Sankara said he has no doubt that the interim administration in Burkina Faso is ready to prosecute anyone responsible for his brother’s death.

He said the protests of 2014 that drove President Blaise Compaore out of power were motivated by the spirit of Thomas Sankara.

“By the way, people came because they wanted to know exactly what happened, the truth, the justice for Sankara’s assassination. The second reason is the transitional government said many times it came to clean everything [up] and make Burkina Faso a democratic country,” he said.

He said everything Thomas Sankara did as a leader was done with the people of Burkina Faso and the image of Africa in mind.

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