Group tries to free Norwegians held in DR. Congo

26th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Norwegian non-profit group has tried to negotiate the release of two Norwegian ex-soldiers sentenced to death for murder and espionage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Joshua French, 28, and Tjostolv Moland, 29, were sentenced to death by a military court in the northeastern town of Kisangani last June for allegedly murdering a Congolese driver in May 2009. They were also convicted of spying.

The Dina Foundation pledged a total of $125,000 to the widow and her in-laws in exchange for the pair's release, said the lawyer representing the deceased man's family, Francois-Davi Alauwa.

However, although the family signed an agreement, the "paper has no value" because it needs to be legally applied, he told AFP.

In addition, the amount does not come close to meeting a $60-million fine imposed on the pair and the Norwegian government, which also includes $4.5 million in compensation for the driver's family and widow.

French, who also has British nationality, and Moland were in Kisangani either as tourists or on business according to different reports, have said their driver was killed by bandits. They have pleaded not guilty.

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

© 2011 AFP

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