Joshua French, the Norwegian man on trial for killing his friend and cell mate in a Democratic Republic of Congo jail, entered a press blackout on Wednesday on the advice of his legal team. The 31-year-old is reportedly under a great deal of stress, and his lawyer said there are also tactical reasons for stepping out of the media spotlight.
French’s trial for the murder of fellow Norwegian Tjostolv Moland was adjourned shortly after it opened in the DRC capital Kinshasa on Tuesday, after the court-appointed translator struggled with the job. His lawyer, Hans Marius Graasvold told the media French has been under tremendous pressure for about five years now, and the attention the case has received is causing extra stress.
“He is in a stressful situation which culminated yesterday after many years with a heavy load,” said Graasvold. “He feels uncomfortable with the amount of media pressure, and needs time and calm to focus. We must take care of a person who is in a very vulnerable situation.” Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported there were also tactical considerations at play. The media has not been banned from the courtroom, where the trial will resume on Friday.
French and Moland were charged in 2009 over the death of their driver. They were sentenced to death and appealed many times. Last August Moland was found dead in his cell, and after initially deeming it a suicide, French was charged in December with Moland’s murder. Norwegian authorities are working to get French extradited.