October 30, 2017

Zongo murder: France urged to extradite deposed president’s brother

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the arrest of former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré’s brother yesterday in Paris in connection with the 1998 murder of the well-known investigative journalist Norbert Zongo and urges the French authorities to extradite him to his homeland.

François Compaoré, the deposed president’s younger brother and onetime adviser, was arrested under an international warrant after disembarking from a plane in Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Aged 63 and now a resident of Côte d'Ivoire, François Compaoré has been wanted by Burkina Faso’s authorities on a charge of “inciting murders” since May. Three other people were murdered along with Zongo.

“Nearly 19 years later, it is high time that Burkina Faso’s judicial authorities completed their investigation and established the truth about this appalling murder,” RSF said.

“We count on the French courts and executive to lose no time in approving Burkina Faso’s extradition request so that its judicial authorities can question François Compaoré as soon as possible. His compatriots have a right to know who instigated Norbert Zongo’s murder. Truth and justice in this case is desired not only by Zongo’s family but also by the entire population, which wants an end to the impunity of the Compaoré era.”

Zongo was an investigative reporter who edited a weekly called the L’Indépendant. His shot and burned body was found in his gutted car around 100 km south of Ouagadougou on 13 December 1998. Three other bodies were also found in the car.

At the time of his death, Zongo had been investigating the death in detention of François Compaoré’s driver.

RSF, which participated in a commission of enquiry in December 1998, repeatedly condemned the political pressure on those investigating the murder, which led to the case being dismissed in 2006. It was reopened in March 2015, during the political transition that followed Blaise Compaoré’s overthrow after 27 years as president.

Burkina Faso is ranked 42nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.