General on trial for failed Burkina Faso coup apologises
Ouagadougou — One of the ringleaders of a short-lived coup in Burkina Faso in 2015 apologised in court on Wednesday to the victims of the attempted putsch that left 14 people dead.
Gen Gilbert Diendere led an elite unit of presidential guards loyal to long-time ruler Blaise Compaore, who was ousted from the presidency in 2014. A year later, Diendere and forces loyal to him tried to overthrow the subsequent transitional government.
“The long-awaited moment for me has arrived, this moment where I address the real victims of events, the injured, and parents of dead victims,” Diendere told a military court in the capital Ouagadougou.
“Since a long time, I hear your cries, your tears and I share your pain,” said Diendere, who appeared in a half-full court in military fatigues. “Your son, your brother acknowledges his full responsibility. I am convinced, with regard to the pain, that you will accept my request for forgiveness,” he said.
Diendere is charged with treason, murder and threatening state security. On the first day of his testimony last week, he denied leading the coup attempt in September 2015, which also left 270 wounded.
Diendere is among 84 defendants in the trial including another general and suspected ringleader, Djibrill Bassole, who served as foreign minister under Compaore.
The coup bid involved taking the country’s transitional leaders hostage but was thwarted by army-backed street protesters who attacked the plotters’ barracks.
The defendants are being tried on a range of charges including treason, undermining state security and murder in a case seen as a test for the judiciary in the West African country.