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Thai prosecutors defer decision on arms cargo plane crew

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Thai prosecutors have put off until Feb. 11 a decision on whether to indict the crew of a cargo plane that was seized with illegal weaponry from North Korea on board, national media said on Friday.

The Il-76 cargo plane carrying 35 tons of weaponry was seized during refueling at Bangkok's Don Muang airport on December 12. The plane's five crew - four Kazakhs and one Belarusian - were arrested and taken to a Bangkok prison.

The Bangkok Post cited Kayasit Pissawanprakan, chief of the Criminal Litigation Office, as saying the prosecution needed more time to examine the case, which remains shrouded in mystery.

One of the issues yet to be cleared up is the intended final destination of the plane.

In line with Thai laws, a criminal case is investigated for up to 84 days.

The crew, which has been refused bail by a Thai judge, is charged with transporting weapons without permission, illegally taking them to Thailand, and failing to inform officials of the cargo.

Thai officials have said the weapons shipment, which was being flown from North Korea to an unknown destination, included portable anti-aircraft missile systems and spare parts for ground-to-air missiles.

A United Nations resolution bans the transportation of certain weapons, including conventional arms, to or from North Korea, which is under international sanctions.

The crew members have said they were unaware of the military nature of the cargo. They say they were told the cargo was oil drilling equipment.

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