IFJ Outraged By Release of Man Accused of Killing Burkina Faso Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said it was outraged by the dismissal of the case against the man believed to have killed prominent Burkina Faso journalist Norbert Zongo in 1998 and it called on the government to bring his killer to justice.

"It is inconceivable that the only person accused in this case was set free without charges so easily,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of IFJ Africa Office. “We are deeply disappointed by the lack of gravity with which justice Burkinabé treated this trial.”

Marcel Kafando, former adjutant of the presidential guard, was accused in February 2001 of assassinating Norbert Zongo and destroying property. The charges were based on testimony from the Sergeant Jean Racine Yaméogo. Yaméogo’s testimony contradicted testimony from Kafando who claimed that he was with Yaméogo at the time of Zongo’s murder.

The trial was delayed after Kafando was hospitalized in June 2001. Because of health problems, he did not appear in court until this year.

During a press conference on July 18, 2006, Prosecutor Adama Sagnon declared that the case against Kafando had been dismissed because Yaméogo had recanted his original testimony while Kafando’s had remained "constant" during the various interrogations.

"It is incomprehensible that a state which claims to be democratic and which has instruments like a justice system, a police force and others, cannot get to the bottom of an incident which occurred 8 years ago and during the day," Jean-Claude Méda, president of the Association of the Journalists of Burkina Faso (AJB), told the IFJ.

On December 13, 1998, Zongo, director of the newspaper L`Indépendant and three people with him were found burned to death in their car, approximately 100 km in south of Ouagadougou. Zongo had been receiving death threats and had just published articles implicating François Compaoré, the younger brother of the President Blaise Compaoré, in the murder of François’ driver.

"We call on the journalists of Burkina Faso and the rest of the continent not to let themselves be shaken by the withdrawal of the case and to continue to maintain pressure on the justice system of Burkina Faso and on President Blaise Compaoré so that the assassins of Norbert Zongo are arrested and judged," Baglo said.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries