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Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 09:46 UK

Norway pair face death in Congo

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
Norway has expressed concern the pair were not receiving a fair trial

Two Norwegian men have been sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being convicted of murder.

Joshua French, 27, and Tjostolv Moland, 28, were also accused of arms smuggling and espionage. They denied all charges.

They were held after their Congolese driver was found shot dead in May this year in the north-east of the country.

The two were ordered to pay $60m (£36m) damages. There was reportedly applause when the sentence was handed down at a military tribunal in Kisangani city.

Diplomatic sources confirmed French had dual British-Norwegian citizenship, but UK officials had so far not played a role in the case.

Army background

Authorities in Oslo have denied French and Moland were involved in espionage for Norway, and have expressed concern they were not receiving a fair trial.

"From a Norwegian position we clearly denounce death sentences against two Norwegian citizens and we also clearly denounce accusations that there has been espionage on behalf of Norway," Jonas Gahr Stoere, Norway's foreign minister told the BBC's Europe Today programme.

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Correspondents say the court was packed for the reading of the verdict.

"The court declares that all crimes are established in fact and in law... and sentences Tjostolv Moland to the death penalty... and Joshua French to the death penalty," said an officer, quoted by Reuters news agency.

Reports say French and Moland - former members of Norway's armed forces - had been trying to set up a private security firm in the DR Congo.

The pair have said their driver was shot and killed when their car was attacked by gunmen on the road near the city of Kisangani.

Mr Stoere said he did not know why the two men were in the DR Congo but reiterated their presence there was not linked to any government business.



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