Congo charges Norway man for killing cellmate

Joshua French, the Norwegian man jailed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been accused once again of murdering his cell-mate and countryman Tjostolv Moland in a serious blow to efforts to secure his release.

Congo charges Norway man for killing cellmate
Joshua French (left) and Tjostolf Moland (right) stand in court at their appeal in 2010 - Heiko Junge Scanpix
French's mother, Kari Hilde French, revealed the charges on her blog on Monday night. 
"Today the military charged Joshua. He is accused of kiling his good friend Tjostolv Moland," she wrote. 
Norway's foreign ministry on Monday confirmed the charges, adding that it could not understand their rationale. 
"We received information today," Svein Michelsen, a spokesman for the ministry, told NRK. "We find ourselves unable to understand what has happened. At the invitation of the Congolese authorities, the National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS)  participated in the investigation and autopsy after Moland's death". 
Norway is sending a special envoy to Kinshasa to give French support and to negotiate with the Congolese authorities. 
French found his friend dead in their shared cell at the start of August, and Congolese authorities ruled at the end of that month that Moland has taken his own life. 
The two men were arrested in DR Congo in 2009 and sentenced to death in June 2010 after being convicted of killing the Congolese driver of a car they had rented.
Norway's foreign minister Børge Brende announced last month that Norway was now cooperating with the British foreign ministry in the fight to free French, who has joint British-Norwegian citizenship.

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Norway to blame for South Sudan war: AU

The African Union has blamed Norway for the civil war which broke out in South Sudan at the end of 2013, arguing that the country had inadvertently created "a politically unchallenged armed power" when it brokered the 2005 peace deal with Sudan.

Norway to blame for South Sudan war: AU
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende after talks with President Salva Kiir in May 2014. Photo: Astrid Sehl / Foreign Affairs / NTB scanpix
The accusation, made in an as yet unpublished African Union inquiry leaked to the Reuters newswire, calls for the oil-rich nation to be placed under the direct control of the AU in an effort to end the war. 
According the report Norway, the US and the UK, the three countries who pushed for the deal had “ushered in an unaccountable political class” in the country, leading to the conditions which spilt the country's leadership apart eight years later. 
The civil war in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, started in December 2013 when the governing party SPLM split into two factions headed respectively by President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar.
At least 10,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million people displaced. The UN accuses both sides of grave human rights violations, including widespread rape, executions, and ethnic-based massacres.
According to the AU report, Norway facilitated Kiir and Machar’s ascent to power when they helped broker the peace deal between SPLM/A rebels and the Sudanese government in 2005.
The settlement brought long-time guerrilla fighters to formal recognition, paving the way for them forming government when South Sudan became independent in in January 2011.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende has not yet commented on the accusations, but called for the report to be made public immediately.
“I think that the investigation that the African Union has started and the commission’s position, it needs to be made public. “ he told Urix, a foreign affairs programme aired by public broadcaster NRK
The African Union has shelved the report on the request of Salva Kiir and Reik Machar. There are fears that its release could disrupt on-going peace negotiations in the Ethiopian capital Addis-Abeba. Despite a truce signed by Kiir and Machar, fighting has continued while peace talks carry on.