A military court in Ouagadougou on Monday commenced the long-awaited trial of 14 men, including the former president, who was accused of the assassination of Burkina Faso's left-wing leader Thomas Sankara 34 years ago. The slaying of Sankara, an icon of pan-Africanism, has for years cast a dark shadow over the Sahel state. A hit squad in October 1987 riddled Sankara and 12 others with bullets during a putsch that brought his friend and comrade-in-arms Blaise Compaore to power. The 14 men going on trial are accused of complicity in the murder of Sankara who was known as "Africa's Che Guevara".
Four years previously, the pair had staged the takeover which saw Sankara become president.
Mr. Compaoré is among the 14 accused but he is currently in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast, where he fled after being compelled to resign during mass protests in 2014.
Compaore, who has always rejected allegations that he orchestrated the killing and is boycotting the trial, will be tried in absentia by the military court in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Last Week, his lawyers announced that he would not be attending a “political trial” flawed by irregularities, and insisted he enjoyed immunity as a former head of state.