Norwegians sentenced to death in DRC will not appeal: lawyer

14th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two Norwegian former soldiers sentenced to death in Democratic Republic of Congo on June 10 will not appeal due to concerns over the impartiality of the military court, one of their lawyers told AFP Monday.

Joshua French, 28, who also has British nationality, and Tjostolv Moland, 29, were sentenced to death by a military court in Kisangani for espionage and the May 2009 murder of their Congolese driver.

"It does not matter whether we appeal or not. It will go back before the same judges. (A new trial) is pointless because we can't have justice in this military court," said lawyer Andre Kibambi.

No executions have been carried out in DR Congo since President Joseph Kabila came to power in 2001. But the death penalty has not been abolished, and capital sentences are commuted to life in jail.

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

After the verdict, Oslo said it was "ready to negotiate" for the transfer of the two men once a verdict was finalised.

"There is no reason to implicate the Norwegian state, either as employer or responsible authority from a civilian point of view," Norwegian foreign ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen told AFP after the sentencing.

Britain's Foreign Office declared that it was "extremely disappointed" by the death sentence given to French and had made its concerns about the case known to the DR Congo government.

© 2010 AFP

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