North Korean seafarers jailed in Panama for arms trafficking

San Francisco: Two North Koreans have been jailed in Panama for 12 years for attempting to smuggle Cuban weapons through the Panama Canal. The seafarers, Captain Ri Yong-Il and first mate Hong Yong-Hyon, were working on the North Korean-flagged Chong Chon Gang when it was stopped and searched in July 2013.

The pair were convicted of arms trafficking, the cargo included two Soviet-era MiG-21 aircraft, air defence systems, missiles and command and control vehicles. The ruling overturns an earlier court verdict, which had set the pair free.

According to ship tracking site Equasis, the 13,990 dwt general cargo vessel was renamed last October. The 1977-built ship now goes by the name, Tong Hung San.


Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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