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05.06.2019 Africa

Ex-Burkina leader's brother risks extradition over journalist's murder

By AFP
Francois Compaore is wanted in connection with the killing of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo 21 years ago.  By Ahmed OUOBA (AFP/File)
JUN 5, 2019 AFRICA
Francois Compaore is wanted in connection with the killing of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo 21 years ago. By Ahmed OUOBA (AFP/File)

The brother of Burkina Faso's ousted leader Blaise Compaore risks being sent home from France to face prosecution for the 1998 murder of a journalist, after a Paris court on Tuesday approved his extradition.

The French government must still approve the ruling to hand over Francois Compaore, and Tuesday's decision by France's highest court can be appealed in France's State Council, which rules on constitutional matters.

Compaore was arrested in Paris in October 2017. He is wanted in connection with the killing of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo 21 years ago.

With the technical title of economic adviser but nicknamed "the little president", Compaore was one of the most disliked figures in the regime of his brother, who was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2014 after trying to change the constitution to extend his 27-year grip on power.

Zongo, 49, was investigating the death of Francois Compaore's chauffeur at the time of his death, and had written several hard-hitting articles about misrule in the Compaore regime.

His charred body and those of three companions were found in a burnt-out car in southern Burkina Faso December 1998.

Zongo's family has long accused Compaore of having had a hand in the killings, which triggered mass protests in Burkina Faso and drew international condemnation.

The journalist's younger brother Robert, hailed Tuesday's court decision, telling AFP in Ouagadougou he was "convinced" Compaore "will return to Burkina Faso" from France, where he lives with his family.

"The people of Burkina Faso will always crave justice in the Norbert Zongo case," Zongo said.

Abdoulaye Diallo, who heads a press centre in the capital named after the fallen journalist, said this was an "important step" in the legal process of Compaore, who he described as "the main suspect" and a "sponsor of the assassination of Norbert Zongo."

Francois-Henri Briard, a lawyer for the wanted man, said he would approach the State Council if the French government gives the go-ahead for extradition.

"We lost a battle but we have not yet lost the war," he told AFP. "Mr Compaore is not yet extradited."

Compaore is wanted on charges of "inciting" the journalist's death.

His lawyers argued against his extradition saying the charges he faces in Burkina Faso do not exist in France, and warned he could face the death penalty.

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