British citizen goes home from death row in the DRC

18.05.17 | |


Joshua French, a dual British/Norwegian citizen, has been released from death row in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr French had been suffering from severe health problems and was released on humanitarian grounds. He has now returned home to Norway.


Mr French and his companion Tjostolv Moland were twice sentenced to death in 2009 and 2010 following convictions for numerous offences, including murder and espionage, charges which both men denied. The proceedings took place in military tribunals and were marred by serious flaws.


In 2014 Mr Moland was found dead in their shared prison cell. Despite a post-mortem examination citing suicide as the cause of death, Mr French was convicted of Mr Moland’s murder. Since then his health has deteriorated significantly.


Joe Middleton has been working on this case, instructed by the Death Penalty Project, since 2009, when the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office sought pro bono legal assistance for Mr French. Responding to the news, he said:


“In recent times Joshua’s health has been so bad that we were extremely concerned about the likely outcome, so this news comes as a huge relief for all of us. The Government of the DRC is to be commended for finding a humanitarian solution for this difficult and notorious case.


Joshua’s release is the result of years of perseverance and hard work between his legal teams in the UK, Norway and the DRC, Reprieve, the FCO, the British Embassy in the DRC and of course the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Dr Marc Lyall did a particularly great job with his recent visit to the Congo and helping with a succession of reports and interventions. And Joshua’s mother has been a pillar of strength, spending time with him in the DRC and trying to find ways to move the process along. Now that he’s back in Norway, Joshua will undoubtedly get the help and treatment that he desperately needs”.


Joe Middleton was instructed by Saul Lehrfreund, Co-Executive Director of the Death Penalty Project. He was assisted in the early stages by Ben Silverstone and more recently by Emilie Gonin. Amanda Clift-Matthews, In-House Counsel at the Death Penalty Project, has also worked on the case.

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