Friday, 4 December 2009

DRC won't execute Norwegians, says Oslo

Dec. 4


DRC won't execute Norwegians, says Oslo

Norway's government said on Friday that the Democratic Republic of Congo
had given its assurances that 2 Norwegians would not be executed despite a
court ruling upholding their death sentence for murder.

"DR Congo's Foreign Minister (Thambwe) Mwamba reiterated his assurance
that the death sentence would not be carried out," a statement from the
Norwegian foreign ministry said.

"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."

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 DRC 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.

They 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 (R3.7 billion) in reparations to the Congolese state, and
more than a million to the victim's family and work colleagues.

The Norwegian statement said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere had spoken
to his Congolese counterpart after the court ruling.

"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 2 have no connection to Norwegian authorities."

The court said Moland and French had been in possession of valid military
service ID cards when they were arrested, and as serving soldiers were
thus the responsibility of the state.

(source: Pretoria News)

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