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Burkina Faso10 December 2001

Three years of impunity for the murderers of journalist Norbert Zongo
RSF holds the authorities responsible for the fate of Marcel Kafando, the only person jailed in this affair

Three years ago on December 13th, 1998, Norbert Zongo, director of the weekly, L’Indépendant, was murdered on a road in southern Burkina Faso. Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) is amazed that the investigation has not advanced to date. The people behind this murder have no worries, thus reinforcing the feeling that justice in Burkina works at two speeds. Despite the declarations to the contrary by the authorities, impunity still reigns in the "land of honest men". François Compaoré, the brother of the country’s president and deeply implicated in this affair, has been questioned one single time by the investigating magistrate: in January of 2001, more than two years after the deed.

Moreover, RSF is very worried by the state of health of warrant officer Marcel Kafando, the only person yet arrested in relation to this affair, held at the Ouadadougou detention and correction centre. This non-commissioned officer in the presidential security regiment (RSP) is a key element in the present investigation. Were Marcel Kafando to die today, the investigating magistrate would have nothing further to do but close the case for lack of sufficient elements to trace the order of responsibility. In such an occurrence RSF would hold the Burkina Faso authorities responsible for the total impunity that is typical of this affair.

RSF has sent a letter to the investigation’s lead magistrate, Wenceslas Ilboudo, asking him for permission to visit Marcel Kafando and to have him examined by an independent doctor selected by the organisation. On several occasions the judge has confirmed that his work has been slowed by the soldier’s poor health. In February, 2001, the warrant officer was arrested for "murder" and "wilful arson" by the general prosecutor, Abdoulaye Barry, in the context of the Norbert Zongo case.

Moreover, the organisation is asking the authorities to be faster in divulging the preliminary conclusions in the investigation into the death of Michel Congo, a journalist for the daily, 24 Heures, who was killed on October 21st, 2001, at his home. Several theories have been put forth, everything from a vulgar crime to political assassination. The local press and local organisations for the defence of human rights are now asking for the creation of an independent investigative commission. The authorities must imperatively prove their true determination for shedding all the light possible on this new affair.

In this country
15 December - Burkina Faso
Police summon heads of ‘collective against impunity’ two days after march on 10th anniversary of journalist’s murder
13 December - Burkina Faso
Protesters rename Ouagadougou avenue after slain journalist on 10th anniversary of murder
12 December - Burkina Faso
Government still trying to cover up truth nine years after newspaper editor’s murder
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