Red Cross: Crew of seized North Korea ship doing well
By Dialogo July 24, 2013
PANAMA CITY, Panama – The 35-strong crew of a North Korean-flagged ship being held in Panama for carrying undeclared Cuban weapons is physically well, a Red Cross team said on July 23.
“They are OK. They are all calm,” said Panamanian Red Cross director Jaime Fernández, adding the sailors had been given blood tests and had their blood pressure checked.
Fernández said the North Koreans, who reportedly tried to mutiny when Panama stopped their creaky freighter, were in moderately comfortable quarters pending an investigation.
It is a room that has been outfitted for them. They have a place to smoke and they have air conditioning,” Fernández said. “They’re not in a five-star hotel but for the situation they are in, they’re OK. They are all in the room watching TV and none of them reported that they were uncomfortable.”
The crew of the Chong Chon Gang face arms trafficking charges after missile and other weapons parts, as well as two fighter planes, were seized.
They face a maximum of six years in prison.
The arms were concealed in a shipment of sugar, and their transfer could constitute a violation of tough United Nations sanctions on North Korea.
Authorities on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal boarded the vessel July 10 because they suspected it might be moving illegal drugs.
[AFP (Panama), 23/07/2013; La Prensa (Panama), 23/07/2013]