Second DR Congo court orders execution for Norwegians

Norwegian citizens Tjostolv Moland, left, and Joshua French, right, listen to a judge reading out their sentence in Kisangani, DR Congo, on 8 September 2009 The men - both former soldiers - were arrested in May last year

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Two Norwegians who had their death sentences overturned in April have again been sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A re-trial was ordered in April after it was found procedures at the military tribunal were flawed.

Former soldiers Joshua French, who holds joint British-Norwegian nationality, and Tjostolv Moland were found guilty of murdering their driver.

They were also again found guilty of spying for Norway.

The BBC's Thomas Fessy in the capital, Kinshasa, says the tribunal in Kisangani has lowered the damages the convicted men and the Norwegian state have been ordered to pay from $500m (£300m) to $65m.

Start Quote

This farce of a trial would be comical if the stakes weren't so tragically high”

End Quote Reprieve's Tineke Harris

They were originally convicted of the spying and murder charges in September 2009 and lost an appeal in December.

Our reporter says the men are likely to appeal against the latest sentence, which they have five days to do.

Lawyers for both men would not comment on the trial but UK-based legal charity Reprieve has condemned it as a "show trial".

"This farce of a trial would be comical if the stakes weren't so tragically high," said the group's Tineke Harris.

"Each time the military prosecution changes their theory, the witnesses all obligingly change their story. It is now clear why the DRC's own constitution forbids the military from administering justice."

Both men have always maintained their innocence.

They say they were travelling to DR Congo from Uganda on a motorbike trip.

When the motorbike broke down, they hired a driver, Abedi Kasongo, to take them back to Uganda.

They say Mr Kasongo was killed when they were ambushed by gunmen in a jungle.

Mr French was born in Norway to a British father and Norwegian mother, and lived in Margate, Kent, as a child.

He moved back to Norway when his parents divorced, but returned to the UK aged 20 and served in the British Army.

Both defendants were carrying Norwegian military identity cards when they were arrested, which led to the spying charges - also denied by the Norwegian government.

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