Burkinabe civil society activists are still demanding justice twenty-four years since the murder of journalists Norbert Zongo and three of his companions.Human rights organisations and journalists on Tuesday urged the authorities to deliver justice against those named in the killing of the investigative journalist on 13 December 1998 while on his way to Sapouy, a town west of the capital Ouagadougou.
Comrades, friends, families and acquaintances of the victims, members of the government, journalists, human rights activists and sympathisers paid tribute to them at the Gounghin cemetery.
There was a minute silence before wreaths were laid at their gravesides.
“After 24 years of mobilisation and struggle, the people of Burkina Faso are still standing and renew their commitment to continue the fight for truth and justice,” said Guézouma Sanogo, president of the Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso (AJB), during the ceremony commemorating the murders.
“We are confident that the case will be tried in the course of 2023. We do not despair that this trial will take place,” said Chrysogone Zougmoré, the president of the Burkinabe Movement for Human and People’s Rights (MBDHP).
On 13 December 1998, the burning wreckage of a vehicle was found on the national road n°06, near Sapouy, in the south of the country.
Inside were three lifeless and partially burnt bodies which were later identified as those of Blaise Ilboudo, Ablassé Nikiéma and Ernest Yembi Zongo.
A fourth body discovered close to the vehicle was that of Norbert Zongo.
Autopsies carried out on the bodies as part of the investigations into their deaths confirmed that they were assassinated as the journalist was investigating the death of David Ouédraogo, former personal driver to François Compaoré, the younger brother of the then President Blaise Compaoré, following his arbitrary incarceration at a military barracks.
Suspected of being the mastermind of the murder, François Compaoré was arrested in Paris, France, in October 2017 under an arrest warrant issued by the investigating judge.
Since then, the former special adviser to President Compaoré has been fighting a bid to stop his extradition to Ouagadougou, despite the signing of an extradition decree by the French authorities.
He has challenged the decision before the European Court of Human Rights.
“We sent a letter dated 2 May 2022 to the Minister of Justice at the time, who was Barthelemy Kéré, who assured us that the answer had been given to the European Court, concerning the guarantees of a good administration of justice to receive the alleged culprit of the 13 December killings, in the person of François Compaoré. We are therefore waiting for the European Court to tell us what will be done about the evolution of this case,” Mr. Zougmore insisted.