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Thai court orders release of arms cargo plane crew

RIA Novosti


BANGKOK, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Thai criminal court ordered on Thursday the release of the crew of a cargo plane that was seized with illegal weaponry from North Korea on board, a court spokesman said.

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 spokesman said the court ruling was handed over to the prison.

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.

On Wednesday, Thailand's The Nation internet news site quoted a source in the country's Prosecutor General's Office as saying the crew members would "most likely" be sent home following their release.

The airplane, which is registered in Georgia, and the cargo will be confiscated, the source said.

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