Joshua French has arrived in Norway. Foreign Minister emphasizes that he has no conviction in Norway
Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed at a press conference Wednesday that French has been transferred to Norway after eight years in prison in Congo.
– I am very pleased to confirm that Congolese authorities yesterday decided to transfer Joshua French to Norway. French came to Norway today and is now receiving the necessary medical follow-up. The burden on French and his nearest has been very large, “I am very pleased to confirm that Congolese authorities yesterday decided to transfer Joshua French to Norway. French came to Norway today and is now receiving the necessary medical follow-up. The charge for French and his closest has been very large, the case has aroused strong commitment and I am relieved that he is now in Norway, said Solberg.
The Prime Minister held the press conference together with Foreign Minister Børge Brende.
French was transported out of Congo in a suitable aircraft with competent personnel on board. Brende says that French arrived in Norway at 11 am on May 17th.
– The Congolese authorities have emphasized the humanitarian issues in the case and especially the consideration of the mother, Kari Hilde French. Her efforts and care for her son have impressed us all, says Solberg.
Solberg said it has been a very challenging case for Congo and Norway and that she is happy that they have found a solution.
According to Brende, the extradition decision came to the office of the President of Congo on May 16th.
– From the Norwegian side we are grateful for the flexibility Congolese authorities have shown. This case is very special, and therefore has been a priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD).
A considerable effort has been made over several years from the employees in the Foreign Service both in Norway and abroad. Today I would like to thank all who have contributed to finding a solution, Brende says.
Brende said that the case is the only enforceable death sentence against a Norwegian citizen abroad and that it has therefore received a high priority in the Foreign Ministry.
– No money has been paid in connection with the transfer or during the process or in the form of promises of future assistance, Brende stresses.
Not a transfer of a sentenced person
Brende stressed that there is an agreement on transfer of sentenced persons.
– This is important to emphasize: French has no convictions in Norway, Brende says.
Both Solberg and Brende also sent their thoughts to Tjostolv Molands family
– I would like to commend both families for follow-up of their sons, said Brende.
Facts about Joshua French and the Congo case
- Joshua French (34) is Norwegian and British citizen. He started in co-operation with Tjostolv Moland, a security company in Uganda.
- French and Moland were in Congo when their driver Abedi Kasongo was killed on May 5, 2009. Both were arrested, suspected of murder. Both denied culpability.
- The military appeals court in Kisangani sentenced both June 10, 2010 to death for espionage, illegal weapons possession, attempted murder, armed robbery and for having formed a criminal association.Only Moland were convicted of the murder.
- The Norwegians did not appeal the death sentence, hoping to speed up the transfer of sentenced persons to Norway.
- On August 18, 2013, Tjostolv Moland, 32, was found dead in the cell he shared with French in the military prison Ndolo in Kinshasa. Congolese authorities at first concluded that he had committed suicide.
- December 2013 Joshua French was accused of having killed his friend.
- February 19, 2014, French was sentenced to life in prison in the Kinshasa military court for assassination on Moland.
- In August 2014, he was accused of attempting to escape after he was arrested outdoors. At the time, because of his severely reduced state of health, he lived alone in an apartment under guard.
- Norwegian authorities have long worked to get him either pardoned or transferred to serving his sentence in Norway.
- Congo’s Justice Minister, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, in February told NRK that the president will pardon French sometime in 2017.
- Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirms May 17 that French is transferred to Norway.
- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, says that it is no question of a pardon or transfer of a sentenced person. French is transferred on humanitarian grounds, Brende states.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today