New trial underway in Congo

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Two Norwegians sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo were back in court on Tuesday, after appealing their earlier convictions. Prosecutors once again made it clear they would seek a new death sentence.

Norwegians Joshua French (right) and Tjostolv Moland (left, in Fotoglif photo at their appeals court trial in December) have been held in a military prison in Kisangani since being arrested for the murder of their taxi driver in Congo last spring. The two young men, former soldiers, had allegedly traveled into Congo from a base in Uganda to drum up business for a tourism and training camp. 

They hired a car and driver but the driver was later found murdered. French and Moland claim they all were victims of a roadside robbery.

They’ve had what some reporters have called “clarification problems,” however, regarding their reasons for being in Congo and why they were armed. Moland testified Tuesday, when their new civil trial began, that they were carrying weapons for self-defense purposes.

Their defense attorney indicated to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that if the two are convicted once again, he may advise against an appeal and instead intensify efforts for the two men to be sent home to Norway.

Both men are said to be worn down after a year in a Congo prison, and it’s not clear whether they’d actually be required to serve out prison terms handed out in Congo, because of differences in the two countries’ legal systems and the kind of evidence presented.

Both have denied not only the murder charges against them, but also spying allegations and attempted murder charges.

“We have never spied for anyone, and the compass and GPS we had were only used to find our way and orient ourselves,” Moland testified on Tuesday.

View and News staff