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Panamanian prosecution seeks 8-yr prison term for N. Korean crew members

All Headlines 10:14 June 06, 2014

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- Panamanian prosecutors have demanded an eight-year prison term for three crew members of a North Korean ship accused of shipping Cuban weapons, a U.S. radio report said Friday.

The request was made during a trial on Wednesday, the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) said, citing prosecutor Roberto Moreno of the Panamanian Attorney General's Office.

The North Korean freighter, the Chong Chon Gang, was seized by the Panamanian authorities in July 2013 while carrying Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other arms-related material hidden under sacks of sugar.

Panama released the other 32 crew members without charge after North Korea paid US$690,000 in fines in February but indicted the three, including the captain, on charges of illegal arms deals.

The VOA added that a sitting judge is expected to deliver a ruling within a month.

A panel of experts said in a report to the United Nations Security Council last month that the shipment itself and the transaction between North Korea and Cuba were violations of sanctions imposed on North Korea.

The example of Panama and the Chong Chon Gang shows that determined action can thwart prohibited activities through existing measures, the panel said in the report published in March.

North Korea "presents a stiff challenge to Member States" of the United Nations, the panel said
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