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Norwegian-British Prisoner Released from Death Row in DRC Amid Growing Health Concerns

  • News
  • 18 May 2017

Joshua French, a dual British and Norwegian national who has spent eight years under sentence of death in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been released from prison on humanitarian grounds and is safely returned to Norway.

Joshua French and his friend Tjostolv Moland were twice sentenced to death in 2009 and 2010 following convictions for numerous offences, including murder and espionage by a DRC military court in Kinshasa, charges which both prisoners denied. In 2014 Moland was found dead in their shared prison cell and, despite a post-mortem examination citing suicide as the cause of death, French was convicted of Moland’s murder. French’s health has deteriorated significantly since Moland’s death and following the extended period he has spent in appalling conditions on death row.

The Death Penalty Project (DPP) have been providing French with pro-bono legal assistance since 2009 and have worked closely with the consular team at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in trying to resolve the case. Along with Joseph Middleton, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, we have advised French and his lawyers in the DRC and Norway in hearings before the military tribunal and in subsequent appeals against his conviction and death sentence. We have also enlisted the support of medical specialists to advise on his case.  In 2015, amid growing concerns about French’s health, we instructed UK psychiatrist Dr Marc Lyall to travel to the DRC and assess his condition. Dr Lyall recommended French’s immediate transfer to the UK or Norway where he could receive appropriate medical care.

The Congolese authorities made the decision to release French on “humanitarian grounds”, after an agreement was reached with Norway. We welcome the actions of both countries in securing French’s transfer to Norway.

 

Saul Lehrfreund, Co-Executive Director of the DPP says:

It has been a gruelling eight years for Joshua and his family. We understand that Joshua’s health was central to the decision for his transfer and we are extremely relieved that Joshua is now safely back in Norway where he can receive the medical care and treatment he so urgently needs.

Photo: Joshua French and his mother Kari Hilde in 2013. Photo courtesy of Kari Hilde

 

Read more on this case:

“Solberg: Joshua French has arrived in Norway”Norway Today, 17 May 2017

“Norwegian-British man freed from Congo prison after two alleged murders”Guardian, 17 May 2017

“Joshua French case: mother of former British soldier appeals to Cameron to save her son on death row“, The Independent, 23 February 2014

 

Note to Editors

Joshua French was provided with pro-bono legal assistance by Joseph Middleton, Doughty Street Chambers throughout the legal proceedings. Amanda Clift-Matthews, In-House Counsel, Ben Silverstone, Matrix Chambers and Dr Marc Lyall of Forensic Psychiatry Chambers also provided pro-bono assistance in this case. In addition, French has been assisted and supported by UK based charity Reprieve and Norwegian lawyer Hans Marius Graasvold.

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