France arrests brother of ex-Burkina president Compaore for 1998 murder

Burkina Faso's ousted leader Blaise Compaore is granted Ivorian citizenship, ending the prospect of his extradition to face murder charges.
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PARIS (Reuters) – Francois Compaore, the younger brother of former Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore, was taken into custody by French authorities on Sunday in connection with the murder of a journalist, his lawyer said.

The killing in 1998 of Norbert Zongo, who published Burkina Faso’s Independent newspaper, became a symbol of repression during Blaise Compaore’s 27-year rule, which ended in 2014 at the hands of a popular uprising.

Before his death, Zongo had been investigating the murder of a driver who worked for Francois Compaore, and his killing triggered violent protests.

Francois Compaore was arrested at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport after returning to France from Ivory Coast, where his brother lives in exile, his lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur said in a statement.

Compaore will appear before a judge within 48 hours, he added.

Burkina Faso media said he was held on an arrest warrant issued by that country’s government. His lawyer said only it was an international arrest warrant.

French prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment on the case.

Sur said the charges were politically motivated by a Burkinabe government unable to get its hands on Blaise Compaore, whom the Ivorian government refuses to extradite despite an international warrant for his arrest in connection with the 1987 murder of former president Thomas Sankara.

Burkina Faso’s uprising and subsequent elections raised hopes the coutry would finally reckon with past crimes, but some activists say the government of current president Roch Marc Christian Kabore has moved too slowly against former regime members, some of whom serve in the new administration.

Authorities opened a trial this week against allies of Blaise Compaore accused of leading a failed coup d‘etat in 2015, including the alleged mastermind, Compaore’s former spy chief General Gilbert Diendere.