DRC retrial condemns two Norwegians to death

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A military court in Democratic Republic of Congo has condemned to death two Norwegians accused of killing their driver, the chief prosecutor said after a retrial in the north of the country.

Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland were charged with the murder of their driver after he was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head east of the northern city of Kisangani in May last year. The former soldiers were also charged with espionage.
“They have been condemned to death,” Colonel Pierre Agabu, prosecutor at the military court, told Reuters by telephone.

It was not clear whether the executions would go ahead as death sentences have been commuted in Congo since the end of its 1998-2003 war. The written verdict is not likely to be prepared for two weeks.
“We are disappointed with the verdict because this condemns a British national to death,” said a British embassy spokesperson of Joshua French, who has dual British and Norwegian nationality.
“We are in close contact with the lawyers and will raise any fair trial issues that they come across and will continue to make representations on French’s behalf,” added the spokesperson.

Congo’s military Supreme Court had repealed the decision of an earlier trial, which also handed down a death sentence in September and demanded that Norway pay Congo $500 million in damages, and ordered a retrial citing procedural errors.

French’s lawyer Guillaume Likwela said he was waiting to hear from his client whether he wanted to appeal the judgement.

Both men have said they are innocent and that their driver was killed when their car was attacked by gunmen.



Source: www.af.reuters.com