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Police question protestors over march on 10th anniversary of Burkina Faso journalist’s murder

Police question protestors over march on 10th anniversary of Burkina Faso journalist’s murder
Against impunity: Some 10,000 demonstrators carry placards with portraits of late journalist Norbert Zongo on December 13, 2008 during a protest in Ouagadougo against the impunity in the case of Burkinabe journalist Norbert Zongo, who was killed ten years ago. The march was organised by the 'Collective against impunity in Burkina Faso' gathering human rigths defence organisations, unions and politicall parties.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

The police in Burkina Faso on Monday summoned four leaders of the Collective against Impunity, two days after they organised a march calling for a renewed investigation into the unsolved 1998 murder of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo.

Among those questioned was Jean-Claude Meda, the president of the Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso, who told the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he had received a call from a police captain on Sunday evening.

Meda said he joined Bénéwendé Sankara, a lawyer handling the Zongo murder case, and activists Chryzogone Zougmoré and Tolé Sagnon in the office of Col Zambo Martin Zongo in connection with slapping stickers bearing "Norbert Zongo Avenue" on street signs along one of the main boulevards in the capital, Ouagadougou. The attempt to rename the boulevard was purely symbolic; Meda said the stickers were removed the same day. The four men were released without charge pending further investigations or possible charges.

Thousands of people took part in a peaceful march through the city's streets on Saturday to protest impunity in the killing of the country's best-known journalist 10 years ago, CPJ said.

Communications Minister Filippe Sawadogo told CPJ that the investigation was still open. "The case has never been closed. If there is new evidence, it must be brought to the attention of the judiciary," he said. A judge had dismissed charges in 2006 against the only suspect in the case.

Even President Blaise Compaoré, whose brother Zongo was investigating before his death, acknowledged the failure of justice in the case. "With the public, we have this thirst for justice, and for the truth, which has not yet been established," he said in a December 4 interview published in three local newspapers. "The judiciary, despite its availability and commitment in any case, can have limits," he added.

Zongo, editor of the weekly L'Indépendant, was one of the best-known journalists in this landlocked, West African nation dubbed the "Land of Men with Integrity." He was killed on December 13, 1998, while investigating the biggest story at the time: a murder at the presidential palace and criminal allegations against the president's brother.

Zongo was just one of 24 journalists killed in the line of duty in 1998, according to CPJ. He is among the 70 per cent of journalists and media workers around the world who die not in crossfire but because they are deliberately targeted for what they have written or aired.

“Ten years after the multiple murder in Sapouy, the people of Burkina Faso are still in the dark although suspicion and evidence have pointed to the president’s brother and the presidential guard,” Paris-based Reporters sans frontières (RSF) said. “Not only have the authorities done everything to prevent justice being done in this case but—compounding scandal with contempt—they have done nothing to ensure that Burkina Faso honours one of its finest sons,” it added.

Date posted: December 17, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 203