A short story of the events and unjust court cases of Mr. Joshua French and Mr. Tjostolv Moland
- Kategori: Saken
- Publisert 17. mars 2014
- Treff: 1403
In 2008 Joshua French a dual Norwegian/British national joined Tjostolv Moland, a Norwegian, in Uganda to build up a lawful security firm.
On 29th of April 2009 French and Moland took a motorbike trip to Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
They had valid visas and travelled under their own names. They declared a Benelli shotgun at the border without problems. In addition they had been told at the Congolese consulate in Kampala that as a shotgun was not a military weapon this could be brought in to DRC.
The motorbike broke down as they reached Kisangani. After a brief stay in Kisangani, Moland and French were returning to Uganda on the 5th of May 2009, having hired a vehicle to bring them and the motorbike towards the Ugandan border. Two other passengers joined them.
About two hours drive out of Kisangani the vehicle was ambushed. Moland and French were the targets. The driver was killed.French and Moland fled in the vehicle, planning to reach the head warden at the Epulu national park (who spoke some English) to report the ambush.
Before they found the warden they were already being hunted, so they fled into the jungle and were later captured and imprisoned.
During their capture, imprissonement and courtcases the two of them have experienced a number of human rights abuses by the military authorities and the court such as:
*Threats on their lives
*Threats on their families lives
*Been robbed on several occasions
*Forced to sign papers with unknown content with loaded guns against their heads
*Threatened to surrender pin-codes to credit cards with loaded gun against the head
*Been paraded through villages and almost being lynched
*Witnessed executions and torture of fellow prisoners
*Physical attacks and torture such as kicks and hits aimed at the kidneys, the head, their backs and being dragged along the ground with hands bound behind the back with a rope with metal
*Chemical torture on Mr. Moland at hospital when he was sick with brain malaria.
*No translation during much of the trials, and often mistranslations (when Joshua saying he was working with security, it was translated to him working as a spy).
*Been tried by military court in spite of being civilians and foreigners
*Been paraded through the streets of Kisangani to the court and almost being lynched
*After court one of the days in 2009 they were taken to a secret location and were threatened on their lives ….?....
*They have been denied:
-access to doctor
-access to lawyer
The military authorities version of the events was that the two had made an excuse for the vehicle to stop, shot the driver and made off with the vehicle.
French and Molands case came up before a military court in Kisangani in spite of them being civilians and foreigners.
The charges they faced were:
*espionage (on behalf of Norway)
*unlawful possession of firearms
*criminal conspiracy against DRC
The case came before the court three times: trial, an appeal and then a retrial.
The case became a huge news sensation in Norway and together with the Norwegian lawyer and diplomats came several of the biggest newsmedia from Norway.
The courtcase could only been called a farce, as evidences were faulty and without hold in reality.
The court cases ended with 5 death sentences for Moland and 4 death sentences for French:
*Espionage on behalf of Norway
*Murder (only Moland)
*In addition Mr. Moland got 20 years of prison for illegal possession of military weapons.
Norway was in solidarity with Moland and French first sentenced to pay 60’000’000 (60million) USD to be paid to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was in the appeal changed to 500’000’000 (500 billion) USD and still stands.
Also the widow of the driver, his 6 children, some more members of his family, the witnesses, and the drivers foundation and some others were demanding a total sum of 29’030’000 USD. The total amount ruled by court to be paid summed up to 465’000 USD in the first court ruling. In the second court ruling it summed up to be 1’275’000 USD. In the last ruling: 5’100’000 USD.
The evidences presented were:
*Old ID-cards from the Norwegian army
*communication equipment (cellphones)
*pictures of women
*pictures of guns (proved being in Norway)
*and a picture of a norwegian photographer pointing at a map of africa.
*Also the famous blood-photo was used as evidence.
-This picture was taken by Joshua when Tjostolv cleaned the drivers seat for blood hours after they had escaped the attack. The photo finds Moland smiling, something which has been explained with being an absolutely normal reaction after surviving an extremely traumatic event.
The two so called witnesses were turned into ”informants” so that they did not have to swear in when they told their story. The story they told were changed several times.
The wound showed that the driver was shot from the left, whereas Joshua and Tjostolv were to the drivers right.
The weapon French and Moland had was a shotghun, which could not have made the same type of wound found on the driver.
The court decided instead that one of the weapons photographed on the cellphone had to be the murder weapon.
One of the guns is a plastic replica (not real) and was found in Norway. The other weapon was also found in Norway and had never left the country.
It was said that Joshua and Tjostolv came into the country wearing the Norwegian Kings Guard uniforms, though they were actually wearing kaki-coloured clothes (like Indiana Jones).
There was presented no real evidences of any of the alligations.
During the court case some of the judges often fell asleep. Tjostolv and Joshua had to stand for up to 7 hours in the heat. Begging to sit, they were told no.
Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland stuck to their version and claimed their innocence.
One of the judges later ended up in the same prison as Joshua and Tjostolv. Major Mofanza Yombo was accused of bribery.
The first sentence came september 9th 2009,
the appeal decemer 3rd 2009
and the last appeal June 10th 2010.
There were minor changes to the sentences but the fact still stood that they were sentenced to death.
DRC has a moratorium on death penalty, which means that they are “on wait”.
The Moland and French families made a private agreement with the widow to buy her two houses for the loss of her husband.
Not as a sign of guilt, but as a compensation because he was hired by them at the time of his death.
The houses was bought and would be given to the widow and her family the moment the two were out of the country.
The widow also sent a plea for pardon to the president and government. Nothing happened.
From middle of May 2009 until 15th July 2009 they were held in a sort of military prison, together with many others in a small garage room with little air.
From 15th July 2009 untill 2nd december 2011 the two were held in Kisangani central prison.
When they arrived they were greeted with the fellow prisoners screaming ”Kill the whites! Kill the whites!”
While in prison in Kisangani, French and Moland gradually won the respect of their fellow inmates and of the prison authorities.
They were allowed to start health- and social work with money collected for this purpose in Norway.
They gave more than 3000 treatments at their ”clinic” and saved many lives.
The high mortality rate in the prison dropped to almost zero during this time.
They also helped guards and their families.
In November 2011 there was an uprising in the prison.
At one point the two of them stood in front of the other inmates to protect them all from being shot.
The 2nd of december 2011, Moland and French were transferred to the military prison Ndolo, in the capital Kinshasa. This would be a pit stop on the prison-transfer to Norway.
They were not given any food or water for two days.
The first two weeks in Ndolo prison were not easy.
After a week some other inmates tried to escape. There was a massacre with 7 dead and many injured.
Also Joshua and Tjostolv were:
hit in the face
bit in the finger
kicked in the back
spat in the face
threatened with murder and violence
constant blackmailed of money
denied food and water
denied medical care
denied phonecalls (to foreign ministry, UN, FCO and family)
Josh and Tjostolv had to sleep shifts to protect themselves.
After a while the two gradually built up their new lives in the Ndolo prison. They again had to work up trust and respect within the prison-community.
After about 6 months they were moved to the VIP part of the prison and later they also got their own cell.
On the early morning of August 18th 2013, almost 2 years after being moved to the Ndolo prison, and a little more than 4 years after being taken prisoner in DRC, Tjostolv Moland was found having taken his own life.
Joshua woke up and found him hung himself, he cut the rope and tried to see if there was a possibility to save his life.
None could be done, and as Joshua waited until the morning for the guards to find them, he sat his friend into a respectful position.
In connection with the death of Mr. Moland, DRC invited ”Kripos” (the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service) to help in the investigation of Molands death.
Both the Congolese and the Norwegian forensic pathologists came to the same conclusion: that French had no part in Molands death.
Moland had committed suicide.
On the 28th of August the senior Congolese investigating officer, general Mukunto, with Kripos present, held a press conference stating that French had nothing to do with the death of Moland.
When the final report from Kripos was given over to general Mukunto on 1st of November 2013 by the embassy councillor of Norway, she was informed that Joshua French might still be accused of killing Moland.
On Monday 9th December Joshua French was officially charged with murder of Mr. Moland.
He has in all the interrogations been consistent in his explanation.
The Kripos report shows that Moland had 2,7 permille alcohol in his blood.
They also found benzodiazepines, but the levels were so low that it would likely be the same as having taken one valium 4-5 days in advance.
Tjostolv had recently been to the dentist, which could be the reason for these findings.
The Congolese report found no evidence of alcohol.
They also found the benzodiazepines, but could not state the amount.
Kripos came to the conclusion that there was no proof, but rather the opposite, that Joshua could have killed his friend that night.
The theory of the Congolese military was that French somehow got benzodiazepines into Moland and then strangled him to death.
An interesting point is that the Congolese doctor had sent his reports, not only to court, but to several people in the Congolese Government.
Even though the Congolese report had clearly stated that Moland had NOT been drinking the night of his death, the court came to the conclusion that he had.
But they found the high blood alcohol level to be representative of the expression ”dead drunk” which would make him unable to do anything but sleep.
However Prof. Stray-Pedersen from KRIPOS could without a doubt recall many cases of drunk driving in Norway where the person had even higher blood alcohol level than 2,7 permille.
On these grounds, the court found Joshua guilty of killing his best friend. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Shortly before Joshua was charged with murdering his best friends there were several rumors indicating that Joshua was on the presidential pardon list.
After he was charged with murder he was taken off the list.
It is noteworthy to mention that General Jean-Claude Kifwa who was responsible for Moland and Frenchs arrest, now 5 years later has been accused by the UN for illegal trading of gold and ivory with the armed militia Mai Mai Morgan.
Joshua became seriously sick in January 2014, right before the trial started.
Because of his illness, the trial was postponed several times in order for him to get well.
However he did NOT receive any medical help, and only certain military prison doctors were allowed to see him.
He has until this day, not gotten any medical treatment.
Joshua French is still locked up in a military prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The deliberate refusal of giving him proper medical help is by far violations of the global human rights.
The trials have been violations of the human rights and the right to a fair trial has been completely ignored.
The years of imprisonment has themselves been torture, not to mention the fear they have been living in and the actual physical aggression against them that they have experienced.
It is about time to let the world know what has happened and what is still going on in DRC.