31, July 2021
Norbert Zongo Affair: France clears extradition of Francois Compaore, brother of Burkina Faso’s ex-president 0
France on Friday cleared the extradition of Francois Compaore, the brother of Burkina Faso’s former president, to his home country where he is wanted in connection with the murder of a prominent journalist.
The Council of State, France’s highest court for cases involving public administrations, rejected an appeal by Compaore’s lawyers against a previous ruling for his extradition, saying there were no constitutional or other grounds to overturn the decision.
Compaore is the younger brother of Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014 — after 27 years in power that started with a coup d’etat — and went into exile in Ivory Coast.
The murdered journalist was Norbert Zongo, director of the weekly magazine L’Independant and an investigative reporter. His charred body was found on December 13, 1998, along with three killed colleagues in a burnt-out car on a road south of the capital Ouagadougou.
The killings sparked mass protests in Burkina Faso and drew international condemnation.
Initially only one suspect, presidential guard member Marcel Kafando, was charged for the killing and later acquitted.
Zongo had been investigating the death of David Ouedraogo, Francois Compaore’s driver.
Burkina Faso closed the probe after freeing the guard member, but the judiciary reopened the case after Blaise Compaore had been deposed.
An independent investigation ordered by the subsequent government concluded that the assassination was linked to the professional activities of the journalist who had a track record of uncovering irregularities in the Compaore regime.
Six suspects, all members of the presidential guard, were identified by the independent investigators and three were charged.
‘Dignity, honour and responsibility’
The Burkina Faso judiciary suspects that Francois Compaore may have ordered the hit, although he has not so far been charged with any crime.
French police arrested him at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in October 2017 following an international arrest warrant issued by his country’s government. In 2020, Burkina Faso made a deal with France for his extradition.
Compaore’s lawyers said on Friday that their client was ready to face his country’s judiciary “with dignity, honour and responsibility”.
But they added in a statement sent to AFP that he felt the extradition was politically motivated, and that the Council had failed to take into account the risk of torture, inhumane treatment and of an unfair trial awaiting him.
“He would certainly be exposed to such risks if he were handed over to Burkina Faso,” they said.
Compaore has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in the hope of stopping the extradition, they said.