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Panamanian Supreme Court to review legality of North Korean ship crewmembers' arrest

August 09, 2013, 14:31 UTC+3
Inspectors found on the North Korean vessel 12 engines for the MiG-21 fighter jets and two disassembled MiG-21bis fighters, as well as five military vehicles
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Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

MEXICO CITY, August 9 (Itar-Tass) - The Supreme Court of Panama will consider the legality of the preliminary arrest of 35 members of a North Korean ship that was detained in connection with the discovery of Cuban arms on it, the Ministry of Public Security of the Central American country reported on Thursday.

The Supreme Court will “make a judgement on the preliminary arrest of the North Korean ship’s crewmembers,” prosecutor in charge of combating drug trafficking Javier Caraballo specified. According to him, the decision to refer the case to the Supreme Court was made with taking into account the demands of the defence lawyers of the seafarers, accused of “making an attempt to damage collective security.”

The North Korean ship was stopped for a routine inspection in the Panama Canal on July 10. Soon after that Panamanian officials reported that the inspectors found on the North Korean vessel 12 engines for the MiG-21 fighter jets and two disassembled MiG-21bis fighters, as well as five military vehicles, which, as experts believe, “are mobile units to control missile launches.”

After that Caraballo stated that “ammunition and explosives” were allegedly found on the detained vessel.

In mid-July, Cuba admitted that the vessel carried “long outdated and worthless” military equipment, which was sent to North Korea for repairs and subsequent return to the island. Panamanian authorities sent a special request to the United Nations to conduct an inspection of the cargo by experts of the organisation to determine “whether (this case) is violation of the UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit the export of weapons to North Korea and import of any weapons from there.”

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