Two Norwegian security consultants sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo a month ago had secured a contract to train an elite Kenyan security squad.
But before they could take up the contract, they were arrested in the DRC and convicted by a Kisangani military court on various counts of murder, spying for a foreign country, conspiracy to murder, formation of a criminal association, armed robbery and possession of weapons of war.
According to Norwegian and Congolese press reports, Mr Tjostolv Moland, 28, and Mr Joshua French, 27, were arrested in Kisangani after killing a taxi driver, Mr Abeidi Kasongo.
The two were in the process of establishing a private “security operation” covering a large area in eastern Africa, and had been contacted by an unidentified Kenyan security official who claimed to be a staffer at the Kenya embassy in the Congo.
They signed with him an agreement to train a 120-man elite security squad which would be responsible for high-level VIP protection, among other duties.
They were arrested in Okapi National Park. Moland was given five death sentences on charges of murder, attempted murder and espionage, while French got four death sentences on similar charges.
State House on Sunday denied reports that the Norwegians had won a contract to train an elite squad.
Presidential Press Service director Isaiah Kabira said on phone: “We do not know them and our security are professionally trained by people of good conduct. We cannot trust criminals with such a duty.”
According to a Norwegian media outlet, TV2, the two, along with the head of the Special Intervention Group (SIG) Torgier Friksen were scheduled to start training the elite Kenyan police squad in an operation codenamed “Project Kilo”.
The Kenya Police and Administration Police also denied working with any Norwegian security group to train a special force.
“ We have no such arrangements with a Norwegian group. Most of our training is done with British and American partners,” said AP spokesman Masood Mwinyi.
Contract documents seen by Norwegian TV2 show that SIG was to be issued with weapons by the Kenyan government.
The group, which has offices in Norway and Britain, was to train the special elite force “to neutralise enemy soldiers, destroy tactical and strategic goals, and monitor and rescue hostages”.
Their lawyer Morten Furuholmen told TV2 that he was aware of the former soldiers’ plan in Kenya but that it turned out that the contact person had not been authorised to sign the deal yet.