Prosecutors in Panama want eight-year prison terms for the crew members of a North Korean vessel arrested last year and charged with shipping weapons from Cuba.
Voice of America quoted an official from the Panamanian Attorney General’s Office as saying that the request had been made on Wednesday.
The Chong Chon Gang freighter was captured last summer by Panamanian authorities and a number of arms-related material was seized, including a MiG-21 fighter aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.
NK News reported last year that military-related materials were found on the ship “hidden in containers in a cargo of sugar.”
The North originally protested their seizure, with its Foreign Ministry stating that the weapons transported were there under “legitimate contract.” A panel of experts told the UN Security Council last month, though, that the sale of the arms constituted a violation of international sanctions on the North.
Pyongyang later sent a delegation of officials and diplomats to negotiate the fine they would be required to pay to secure the crew’s release.
Of the 35-member crew, 32 were released after the North paid fines amounting to about $690,000 in February, but the ship’s captain and two other members of the crew were indicted.
Cuba admitted to the arms sales last July, but said they amounted to “obsolete” and “defensive” weapons.
The VOA reported that a sitting judge is expected to deliver a ruling on the case in a month.
Picture: Edit of MarineTraffic.com photo
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