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Joshua French

  • D.O.B: 07 April 1982
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Death penalty

Joshua French is a dual British-Norwegian national who spent eight years in appalling conditions under sentence of death in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) before he was eventually released and returned home on humanitarian grounds.

Joshua's story

In May 2009, Joshua and his friend Tjostolv Moland, who had been living and working in Uganda, were arrested on suspicion of killing their Congolese driver while on a trip in the DRC. They were later tried before a military tribunal and sentenced to death, after being found guilty of multiple offences including murder and espionage. Both men have always maintained their innocence of all the charges against them, claiming that their driver was killed after the vehicle they were travelling in had been ambushed.

Joshua and Tjostolv’s legal proceedings raised serious fair trial concerns. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of paid witnesses who gave inconsistent accounts of events, and failed to disclose to Joshua and Tjostolv’s legal team key evidence against the defendants.

We became involved in the case in 2009, helping Joshua to appeal against his conviction and sentence. The appeal was allowed and Joshua’s case was referred back to the court for re-trial. However, in June 2010 Joshua and Tjostolv were again found guilty and again sentenced to death.

The pair were held in terrible conditions on death row. During their time in prison they were forced to undergo a mock execution and were caught up in violent riots between inmates and prison staff. In August 2013, Tjostolv hanged himself in their shared cell. Despite a post-mortem citing suicide as the cause of death, Joshua was subsequently tried and convicted of Tjostolv’s murder. His health deteriorated rapidly following Tjostolv’s death.

Our family are very grateful to The Death Penalty Project for their excellent help and encouragement through very difficult years. Joshua is enjoying his freedom tremendously and is working hard to build himself up again physically and mentally after more than 8 years in Congolese prisons.

Kari Hilde French (Joshua’s mother)

We worked closely with Joshua’s family, the British and Norwegian consular teams and an international team of lawyers to resolve the case. In November 2015, we sent a UK psychiatrist to assess Joshua. Joshua’s health was found to be at serious risk, and urgent recommendations were made for his immediate transfer to the UK or Norway, where he could receive proper medical care.

In May 2017, Joshua was finally released from prison and returned to Norway after a humanitarian deal was reached with the Norwegian government.

Case Timeline

  1. Joshua and Tjostolv are arrested on suspicion of killing their driver

  2. First trial - Joshua and Tjostolv are found guilty of murder sentenced to death

  3. The Death Penalty Project becomes involved in the case

  4. Retrial - Joshua and Tjostolv are again convicted and sentenced to death

  5. Tjostolv commits suicide in the cell he shares with Joshua. Joshua is later charged and convicted of Tjostolv’s murder

  6. We send a psychiatrist to the DRC to assess Joshua

  7. Joshua is released from prison on humanitarian grounds and returns home to Norway

Gallery

Joshua and his mother Kari Hilde, pictured in 2013 (photo courtesy of Joshua's family)

Joshua in his prison cell (photo courtesy of Joshua's family)

Joshua and Tjostolv Moland's shared prison cell in Kisangani (photo courtesy of Joshua's family)

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