Stay of execution for Norwegian mercenaries in Congo

DR-CongoStrong reaction by the Norwegian government to the military Appeals Court decision in the DR Congo to uphold the death sentence ordered for two Norwegian citizens, has resulted in assurances by Congolese officials that the penalty will not be carried out.

The guarantee was made to Jonas Gahr Store, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, by his Congolese counterpart who also confirmed that any further appeals would be heard in the Kinshasa Supreme Court.

In September a military court in Kisangani found Joshua French, 27, and Tjostolv Moland, 28, guilty on charges of murder, weapons smuggling and spying for the Norwegian state. Last week the Kisangani appeals court once again sentenced both men to death and also ordered the payment of massive sums in compensation.

Gahr Store was highly critical of the decision at the time. “I react strongly to the new sentences in Kisangani, where two Norwegian citizens have again been sentenced to death. Norway opposes death sentences on principle, and I will as soon as possible again contact DR Congo’s Foreign Minister to convey this message,” he stated. Gahr Store also appealed to the DR Congo’s embassy in Stockholm which ultimately led to that country’s Justice Minister assuring him that the execution would not go ahead.

The two men have been detained in the DR Congo since May following the shooting of their driver in an alleged roadside ambush. The ex-military service had claimed they were touring the country with the possible aim of establishing a private security firm. They were arrested hundreds of kilometres from the scene of the murder and had not reported the incident.

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