Burkina Faso police question Zongo protesters

This morning, police in Burkina Faso summoned four leaders of a march over the weekend that called for a renewed investigation into the unsolved 1998 assassination of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo. Among those questioned was Jean-Claude Meda, the president of the Association of Journalists of Burkina Faso, who told me that he 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, he said he’d been told.

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.

Speaking to CPJ via telephone from Ouagadougou today, Communications Minister Filippe Sawadogo said 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.