- The Congolese military court has upheld the sentences of two Norwegian nationals today sentenced to death for murder, arms smuggling and spying.
The convicts, Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland were also ordered to pay more than $500 million in damages for their illicit acts.
The two men, both former Norwegian soldiers, were sentenced to death in September for the May murder, espionage and arms smuggling after their driver was found shot dead near the city of Kisangani in the lawless east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The alleged motive behind the killing still remain a mystery.
However, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere has condemned the decision made by the court. Norway does not have the death penalty.
"I object strongly to these new sentences in Kisangani. Norway is against the death penalty in principle, and I will contact the Democratic Republic of Congo's foreign minister as soon as possible to relay this message," he said.
The pair who were in Kisangani either as tourists or on business depending on varying reports, have said their driver was killed by bandits and they have maintained their innocence.
The court also convicted them of spying for Norway because they were carrying military ID cards at the time. The Norwegian government has denied that the men were Norwegian spies.
Local reports said witnesses who testified against the pair received $5,000 each in compensation.
DR Congo has been at the centre of what could be termed Africa tenacious civil war which has resulted to severe humanitarian crisis.
The five-year conflict pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.
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