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07.12.2009 Congo

Dr Congo Will Not Execute Norwegians

By Daily Graphic
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Norway has said it has been assured by the Democratic Republic of Congo that two Norwegian nationals sentenced to death will not now be executed.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said he had received the guarantee from his DRC counterpart, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba.

Joshua French, who holds joint British-Norwegian nationality, and Tjostolv Moland were convicted in September of murdering a taxi driver and spying.

The two men lost an appeal at a military tribunal on December 3. Mr Stoere said that Mr Thambwe Mwamba had assured him during a conversation that a moratorium on executions in DR Congo meant that the death sentence would not be carried out.

The tribunal appeal in Kisangani upheld the death sentences on Moland and French - former Norwegian soldiers convicted of murdering their Congolese driver.

They and the Norwegian state were also ordered to pay $500 million (£300million) in damages. The rulings drew immediate international protests amid claims of miscarriages of justice.

Norwegian national broadcaster NRK said the pair plan to appeal against the sentence in Kinshasa's supreme court.

Moland and French have been held since May this year since their Congolese driver was found shot dead.

Both men deny murdering Abedi Kasongo, 47, maintaining that he was shot and killed when their car was ambushed by gunmen on the road near the city of Kisangani.

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