Norway forgives the Congo's debt
Friday, the government cleared a debt of NOK 143 million (over USD 25 million) that the Congo had to Norway. This will, however, not affect Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland.
The two Norwegians have been imprisoned in Kisangani, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, for two and a half years.
Both have been sentenced to death several times, but Norwegian authorities have been given assurances that the death penalty will not be carried out.
Friday of last week the King decided that all debts the Congo had to Norway should be deleted. The country owed Norway a total of NOK 143 million.
Using the debt relief as leverage to help negotiate the release of the two Norwegians from prison in Kisangani has not been cited as part of the decision.
Removing the country’s debt is part of an economic program in which Norway participates with 18 other countries, said the Foreign Ministry.
“Should Norway not fulfill its part of the deal because of its bilateral relationship with the Congo, the scheme would be undermined. It would also be unjust to the other countries that contribute to the international deletion,” communications manager Trond Viken said to NRK.
French and Moland have gotten many differing signals in prison. Both a transfer to the capital city of Kinshasa and transfer of the case to Norway have been discussed, but without any results.
Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland was arrested in the Congo on May 9 and 11 2009 respectively, suspected of killing the driver Abedi Kasongo May 5. Both have consistently denied guilt.
September 8 2009, the two were found guilty and sentenced to death for murder, attempted murder, espionage, armed robbery and attempt to form a criminal association. Both appealed the verdict, and eventually the Congo’s Supreme Court nullified both of the earlier decisions.The case was heard again in the Court of Appeal in Kisangani, where the Norwegians were jailed.
June 10, 2010, the two were once again sentenced to death in Kisangani. Moland was convicted of murder, while both were convicted of espionage, illegal weapons possession, attempted murder, armed robbery and for having formed a criminal association.
The two Norwegians have not appealed the death sentence again, hoping to speed up a prison transfer to Norway.
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