KINSHASA, Apr 22 – Death sentences imposed on two Norwegians in the Democratic Republic of Congo for killing a driver were overturned Thursday, their lawyer announced, adding that the men would be retried.
A military tribunal had previously rejected an appeal by Tjostolv Moland, 28, and Joshua French, 27, sentenced to death last year for the murder of the driver of the vehicle they rented.
"The decision of the military court in Kisangani was annulled today," lawyer Guillaume Likwela told AFP.
"We will restart the trial before a differently constituted military court in Kisangani, that is, with different magistrates," said Likwela, without giving reasons for the overturning of the death sentences.
On December 3 a military tribunal in the northern DR Congo rejected an appeal by the Norwegians against death sentences for the May 5 murder of the driver in mineral-rich Orientale province.
The two, who were in Kisangani either as tourists or on business depending on varying reports, have said their driver was killed by bandits and have maintained their innocence.
The duo were also found guilty of spying, which they have also denied.
The men, both former soldiers, and the Norwegian state were ordered to pay 500 million dollars (300 million euros) in reparations to the Congolese state, and more than a million to the victim\’s family and work colleagues.
Oslo has said the men had no ties to the Norwegian government. French also has British nationality.
After the initial sentence, Norway said it had received assurances that the Congolese government would not apply the death penalty and that Kinshasa would investigate the possibility of the men serving part of their sentences in Norway.