Sunday, 30 August 2009

CONGO: Death penalty for 2 Norwegians

A military prosecutor in Congo asked a court to sentence to death 2
Norwegians accused of killing their driver in the lawless east of the
country in May this year.

The Norwegians, Joshua French, 27, and Tjostolv Moland, 28, were charged
with murder, attempted murder, espionage, conspiracy and armed robbery
after their driver was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head east of
the city of Kisangani.

"May it please the garrison military court to say that the accusations
against Tjostolv Moland and Joshua (French) are established and to
sentence them ... to the death penalty," prosecutor Major Jean Blaise Bwa
Mulundu said.

The Norwegians had previously served in Oslo's armed forces. Norwegian
diplomats say contacts between the accused and their country's military or
any other official organisation were discontinued in 2007.

It is not clear what the 2 accused were doing in the area. Ex-soldiers are
frequently taken on by private security companies who have stepped up
interest in the region due to oil discoveries under Lake Albert, which
lies on the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Mulundu requested the death penalty for each of the 5 charges against the
2 defendants.

The verdict is expected to be handed down by the military court next week.

The men were travelling in Congo's northeastern Orientale province, which
is still unstable and plagued by armed groups 6 years after the country's
war officially ended.

But the region is starting to attract investors after the discovery of
billions of barrels of oil on the Ugandan side of the border by
London-listed Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil.


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