Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Defense lawyers walk out of Burkina Faso coup trial

Voice of America reports here on the suspension of a military trial in Ouagadougou:
The trial began Tuesday for 84 people accused of masterminding a 2015 coup attempt in Burkina Faso, with the West African nation's capital under tight security.

Former presidential aides Gen. Gilbert Diendere and Gen. Djibril Bassole are among those facing a military tribunal. Hundreds of security forces deployed around the court building.
The trial, however, was suspended by the military tribunal president Tuesday afternoon after defense lawyers walked out of the court, arguing against irregularities in the trial, and that a military tribunal wasn't independent enough to judge the accused.
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Many in Burkina Faso have questioned the military tribunal's ability to deliver a fair trial since its members are appointed by the ministry of defense and head of state. The military courts are outside the control of the body responsible for overseeing the independence of the judiciary, rights group Amnesty International said.

"We are not going to attend a trial that doesn't respect the minimum of legal proceedings," said a defense lawyer, Benao Batis, before all defense lawyers left the courtroom.

After the lawyers left, the president of the tribunal Saidou Ouedraogo announced the suspension of the trial. It wasn't clear when it would resume.

Some of the victims burst into tears as they learned the trial has been suspended and no date has been set up for its reopening.

"The president should have continued with the proceedings to set up the jury before suspending the trial," said Seraphin Some, a lawyer for the victims.

Earlier, Chrizogome Zougmore, chairman of a local human rights group, had said: "This is a real test for the credibility of the justice system in our country always accused of favoring the political system in place."

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