OSLO — The Democratic Republic of Congo has given its assurances that two Norwegians will not be executed despite a court ruling upholding their death sentence for murder, Norway's government said on Friday.
"DR Congo's Foreign Minister (Thambwe) Mwamba reiterated his assurance that the death sentence would not be carried out. He also reiterated that the Congolese government has adopted a moratorium on the death penalty and that such sentences are no longer carried out in the country," a statement from the foreign ministry said.
DR Congo has not carried out a death sentence since the arrival in power of President Joseph Kabila in 2001.
A military tribunal in the northern DR Congo rejected an appeal on Thursday by Norwegians Tjostolv Moland, 28, and Joshua French, 27, who had been sentenced to death for the May 5 murder of the driver of a vehicle they rented in Kisangani in mineral-rich Orientale province.
The two, who were in Kisangani either as tourists or on business depending on varying reports, have said their driver was killed by bandits. They have maintained their innocence.
The duo were also found guilty of spying, which they have also denied.
The pair, both former soldiers, and the Norwegian state were ordered to pay 500 million dollars in reparations to the Congolese state, and more than a million to the victim's family and work colleagues.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere spoke with his Congolese counterpart after the court ruling, the statement said.
"Concerning the part of the sentence about them conducting espionage for the Norwegian state, I rejected this as completely baseless, as is the demand for reparations against the state of Norway," Stoere said.
"I reiterated that the two have no connection to Norwegian authorities," he added.
The court said Moland and French were in possession of valid military service ID cards when they were arrested and as serving soldiers were thus the responsibility of the state.