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African Court Orders Journalist’s Murder Case Reopened

An African human rights court, weekend, ordered Burkina Faso to reopen a probe into the 1998 murder of journalist Norbert Zongo, who was killed while investigating the former president’s brother. In its decision, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights told Burkinabe authorities “reopen the investigation in order to locate, prosecute and try those responsible for the murders of Norbert Zongo and his three companions.”

The court’s judgements cannot be appealed. The bodies of Zongo and three colleagues were found in a burnt out car in 1998. At the time he was looking into the murder of the driver of Francois Compaore, the brother of then president Blaise Compaore. Charges against Francois Compaore were subsequently dropped.

The judges also ordered Burkina Faso’s government to pay 25 million CFA francs (38,000 euros) to each of the victims’ partners as well as 15 million CFA francs to each of their children. The investigation into Zongo’s killing has been receiving renewed attention since Blaise Compaore was toppled in a popular uprising last year.

Burkina Faso’s interim government pledged in November to reopen the case. Though six “serious suspects” were identified by a Burkinabe commission tasked with probing the murders, only one suspect was charged for the killing of Zongo — presidential guard member Marcel Kafando — and he was acquitted. Burkinabe authorities closed the case in 2006 saying there was a lack of evidence. In a 2014 ruling the African Court on Human and People’s Rights slammed Burkina Faso for allegedly failing in its obligations to bring the killers to justice.

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