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Norway hopes Congo death will free survivor

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Norway hopes Congo death will free survivor
Tjostolf Moland during visit from mother Mathilde Moland in 2010 - Geir Egeland Ingar / Scanpix
09:27 CEST+02:00
Norwegian officials hope that the tragic death of one of the two Norwegians jailed in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday will make it easier to secure the release of the other.
Norwegian officials hope that the tragic death of one of the two Norwegians jailed in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday will make it easier to secure the release of the other. 
 
Foreign minister Espen Barth Eide said on Monday that hoped to have Joshua French transferred to a prison in Norway, or even reprieved, using his friend Tjostolv Moland's funeral in Norway as leverage.  
 
"If he can attend the funeral, he will be in Norway and then we will have a completely different situation," Eide told NRK. 
 
French, who has duel Norwegian-British nationality, found found Moland dead in his cell on Sunday. The two former Norwegian army officers had been jailed in the Congolese capital Kinshasa since 2009, charged with murdering their driver Abedi Kasongo. 
 
The two men, who were in Congo to try and set up their own security firm, deny guilt, claiming their driver was killed by bandits. 
 
Moland's father Knut lashed out at the Norwegian government on Sunday, saying he had begged them to intervene in the case.
 
"They did nothing. Now they have Tjostolv's blood on their hands," he wrote on his blog.
 
Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who on Monday revealed that he has been lobbying for French's release for a year, said he also hoped that Tjostolv death would finally open up communication with the Congolese authorities. 
 
"The case has had such a tragic outcome that it may be easier to do something for French. I'd like to help if I can." 
 
Bondevik, who was prime minister from 1997-2000, has sent letters directly to Congo president Joseph Kabila, using the president's sister Jaynet, who he met by chance in the US, as a conduit. 
 
"We talked about the case," he said of the meeting with Jaynet Kabila, who is also an MP. "At another meeting in Washington DC, I met the Prime Minister of the Congo. Then when Kari Hilde was in the Congo this summer, I sent her letter to Jayne and to President Kabila. I have confirmed that the letters arrived."
 
Bondevik said he had also asked former US President Jimmy Carter, who does charitable work in the Congo, to intervene. 
 
However, like both Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Norway's foreign minister Barth Eide, he has received no reply. 
 
"Communication is very difficult," Bondevik explained. "Congo's President probably views the case from a political perspective, worrying about the political reactions a pardon or release for the Norwegian prisoners might engender."  
 
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