Burkina Faso court charges general, ex-minister over coup

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – A court in Burkina Faso on Tuesday charged a general and a former foreign minister with crimes including threatening state security and murder in the wake of a short-lived coup last month, judicial sources said.

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General Gilbert Diendere led a putsch by elite presidential guard soldiers that saw them take the country’s president, prime minister and members of the transitional government hostage less than a month before elections.

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Though the week-long power grab failed, some of his forces resisted an order to disarm, forcing the army to attack their base in the capital Ouagadougou last week. Diendere, a former spy chief, was handed over to authorities on Thursday after initially seeking refuge in the Vatican embassy.

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Djibril Bassole, once foreign minister, was also arrested in connection with the coup.

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The two men, who are close allies of deposed longtime leader Blaise Compaore, were each charged with 11 offences, according to two sources familiar with Tuesday’s proceedings.

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Other charges included colluding with foreign forces to destabilise interior security, voluntary assault, and willful destruction of property, the sources said.

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At least 11 people were killed and 271 injured as the presidential guard crushed protests against their actions.

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Burkina Faso is due to hold presidential and general elections on Sunday.

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The polls, which may be delayed due to the coup, are meant to restore democratic rule a year after mass demonstrations forced Compaore from power as he sought to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.

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