The family and lawyers of Joshua French, who was last month convicted of murdering his cell mate in a Congo prison, said the Norwegian-British man has stopped eating and they fear he will die before diplomats can get him extradited to Norway. Meanwhile, Norwegian Foreign Ministry (Utenriksdepartementet) workers claimed they had not been allowed to visit French in the Kinshasa prison for two weeks.
French’s failing health delayed the murder trial several times throughout January and February, before he was eventually convicted of murdering his friend and former business partner Norwegian Tjostolv Moland in the cell they shared last August. The controversial judgment came despite Moland’s death originally being ruled a suicide, a theory supported by Norwegian expert testimony during the trial.
News bureau NTB reported French has since stopped eating and his condition has significantly worsened. His mother Kari Hilde French has been visiting him with food but ministry representatives said they had been kept out, in contravention of international conventions.
“We now have access to the prison again, but there has been much back and forth,” said ministry communications spokesman Frode O Andersen. He could not comment specifically on French’s health, but said Norway is holding the Congolese authorities fully responsible for his wellbeing.
NTB reported the special envoy tasked with getting French extradited to Norway, Kai Eide, was due to return to Congo to continue diplomatic relations. But French’s lawyer, Hans Marius Graasvold feared the help would come too late. “If he doesn’t get help, it’s a matter of time before he gets so bad he can’t manage anymore,” he told newspaper Dagbladet.