Death sentence Norwegians ask DRCongo for pardon

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two Norwegian ex-soldiers sentenced to death for murder and espionage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have written to President Joseph Kabila to ask for a pardon, their lawyer said Thursday.

"We have sent a plea for grace citing the extremely difficult conditions of their detention as well as family considerations," Norwegian lawyer Morten Furuholmen told AFP.

Joshua French, 28, who also has British nationality, and Tjostolv Moland, 29, were sentenced to death June 10 by a military court in the northeastern DRC town of Kisangani.

They were found guilty of the May 2009 murder of a Congolese driver of a vehicle they hired in the town, and of spying.

"The request is for a total pardon or, failing that, the commuting of the death penalty" to a prison term that could be served out in Norway, Furuholmen said.

French and Moland did not apologise in their letter for the crimes for which they they were convicted, the advocate said.

"They have always said that they are innocent and so it would be illogical for them to apologise," he said.

The Norwegian government, which has always dismissed claims that the men were spies, has said it has received assurances from Congolese authorities that the death penalty would not be carried out.

The court also ordered the men and the Norwegian government to pay a fine of 60 million dollars (73.3 million dollars).

DR Congo has not carried out a death sentence since Kabila came to power in 2001, but has commuted such penalties to life imprisonment.

© 2010 AFP

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