In Burkina Faso, it was in principle this Friday, April 6 that the trial of the failed coup d’etat of September 2015 was to get into the thick of things with the interrogation of the accused. But the hearing was devoted to reading the letters of the defence lawyers, instead of the interrogation of the accused.
Several defence lawyers, including those of General Gilbert Diendéré, have resigned. In all, 14 lawyers decided not to participate in the trial to protest against several irregularities and the lack of conditions for a fair trial. These lawyers still challenge the two professional judges designated by the Minister of Justice and the rejection of their list of witnesses. The president of the court suspended the trial so that the defendants find new lawyers.
A dozen defendants are left defenceless after the withdrawal of their lawyers. Challenging the president of the court, rejecting the accused’s list of witnesses, the defence lawyers all denounce what they consider to be procedural errors.
Maître Christophe Birba defended the former president of the Burkina Faso Bar Association. “It is necessary that the judges that the civil party has made come down the file,” he says. It is a non-negotiable condition. “The witnesses must be heard by the court, even if it takes a year to hear them, it is necessary.”
According to Olivier Yelkouni, one of General Gilbert Diendéré’s lawyers, the conditions for a fair trial are not met: “We want this trial to take place in conditions that respect the basic rights of the defence otherwise, we have never, at any time, blocked these trials.”
The military prosecutor requests a postponement of the trial to allow the accused to find new lawyers. Even if the civil parties accuse the defence of wanting to paralyze the trial, Master Prosper Farama is serene. “It fits in the straight line of the strategy that the defence has adopted since the beginning of this trial,” he says. In any case, we are convinced that this trial will take place, that we will go to the bottom, that we will know who did what.”
Defense lawyers plan to take the case to international courts, so that this trial of the coup on September 2015 will be held in better conditions