Ouagoudouga, Burkina Faso - The trial has begun for 84 people accused of masterminding a 2015 coup attempt in Burkina Faso, with the West African nation's capital under tight security.
Former presidential aides Gen. Gilbert Diendere and Gen. Djibril Bassole are among those facing a military tribunal. Hundreds of security forces deployed around the court building.
Diendere briefly took power after the presidential guard under his command staged a coup of the transitional government in September 2015. He stepped down days later under pressure from the regional bloc, Burkina Faso's military and protesting citizens. He and others now face life in prison for charges including conspiracy against the state, murder and beatings.
Bassole, a former foreign affairs minister, is accused of treason. Many of the others accused are former soldiers in the presidential guard.
"This trial is not only a historic event, it is truly another victory against the retrograde and anti-democratic forces who have always plotted to prevent truth to prevail," said the civil society organization Citizen Broom, which played a key role in the resistance against the attempted coup.
The transition government was set up after President Blaise Compaore's ouster in a public uprising in 2014, ending nearly 30 years in power. A year later, as Burkina Faso prepared to transfer power to an elected head of state, the former presidential guards arrested transitional President Michel Kafando and several other officials, unhappy that Compaore supporters couldn't run in the election.
The unrest that quickly forced the coup leaders to surrender killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 200 others.
"There should not be revenge but only justice," Prosper Farama, a rights activist and lawyer for some of the victims, said of the trial.
Many in Burkina Faso have questioned the military tribunal's ability to deliver a fair trial since its members are appointed by the ministry of defense and head of state. The military courts are outside the control of the body responsible for overseeing the independence of the judiciary, rights group Amnesty International said.
"This is a real test for the credibility of the justice system in our country always accused of favoring the political system in place," said Chrizogome Zougmore, chairman of a local human rights group.
Mathieu Some, one of Diendere's lawyers, said: "I am asking everyone to come and hear what happened so that we do not have a parody of justice."