A Norwegian prisoner in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been found dead in his cell, confirmed the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
Tjostolv Moland, 32, and fellow countryman Joshua French have been locked up in the DRC since 5 May 2009 for allegedly murdering their driver Abedi Kasongo. Both have continually pleaded their innocence.
In September 2009, the pair received the death sentence at their trial in Kisangani after being found guilty of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, espionage and attempting to develop a criminal association.
At their appeal of the verdict in 2011, Moland was convicted of murdering the driver and handed the death sentence once more. He and French were found guilty of attempted murder, forming a criminal association, armed robbery, illegal weapons possession and espionage. French also received the death penalty.
The pair were transferred to a prison in the capital, Kinshasa, prior to Christmas that year and have remained there since. They opted not to appeal their death sentences in the hope of extradition to their homeland, where they wanted to serve their sentences.
Barth Eide gave no comment on the information authorities in Norway have received regarding Moland’s death. However, he said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a representative to the jail and that they expect the full cooperation of the Congolese authorities regarding such matters as Moland’s coffin and French’s situation.
The foreign affairs minister had earlier raised the topic of extradition of the two men with DRC President Joseph Kabila. Barth Eide said there is nothing to indicate French is in any danger after what has happened, but noted that the situation has been difficult for a number of years. He added that they are doing everything they can to ensure he is returned to Norway safely.