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Burkina Faso: General Charged in Coup Attempt

(Oct. 14, 2015) On October 6, 2015, General Gilbert Diendere of Burkina Faso and Djibril Bassole, the country’s former foreign minister, were each charged with 11 crimes related to the attempted coup of September 2015. Diendere, who surrendered following the end of the coup attempt, will be tried by a military tribunal for charges including murder, threatening state security, colluding with foreign forces, assault, and willful destruction of property. Bassole, who has denied involvement in the crimes, is being charged as a co-conspirator with Diendere. (Matt Belenky, Burkina Faso General Charged in Coup Attempt, PAPER CHASE (Oct. 7, 2015); Burkina Faso Coup Leader Gen Diendere Charged; BBC NEWS (Oct. 7, 2015); Mathieu Bonkoungou, Burkina Faso Court Charges General, Ex-Minister over Coup, CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (Oct. 7, 2015); Burkina Faso Former Chief of Diplomacy Arrested for Plotting, XINHUA.NET (Sept. 29, 2015).)

Under the Penal Code of Burkina Faso, these actions, if seen as treason, could be subject to the either the death penalty or life in prison. (Law No. 43/96/ADP on the Penal Code (Nov. 13, 1996), arts. 88 & 89, REFWORLD (in French); Law No. 006/AN Amending Law No. 043/96/ADP of November 13, 1996 (Apr. 6, 2004) [amends only arts. 11 & 35], RULAC (in French).)

In addition to bringing charges against the two alleged leaders, the government now in place will dismantle the presidential guard unit that took part in the coup. (Burkina Faso Coup Leader Gen Diendere Charged, supra.)

Background

On September 16, 2015, the Presidential Security Regiment, a military group loyal to former President Blaise Compaore, took over the room where the Cabinet meets and detained Michel Kafando, who has been serving as interim President. A week later, lacking popular support, the Regiment withdrew, ending the attempted coup. During the events of that week, it is reported that there were at least ten fatalities and over 100 cases of injury. Diendere was quoted as saying that the attempt to take control was a big mistake. (Id.; Belenky, supra.) Campaore had led the country for 27 years before leaving office following violent protests and a military takeover in November 2014. (After Burkina Faso Dictator Flees, Who’s in Charge?, CBS NEWS (Nov. 2, 2014).)