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Thai prosecutors to release crew of arms cargo plane

RIA Novosti


BANGKOK, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Thai prosecutors on Thursday will announce a decision to drop charges against the crew of a cargo plane that was seized with illegal weaponry from North Korea on board, Thailand's The Nation internet news site has reported.

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 crew will most likely be sent home, but the IL-76 airplane registered in Georgia and the cargo...will be confiscated," The Nation reported, citing a source in Thailand's Prosecutor General's Office.

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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