North Korea

North Korea seeks release of ship crew in Panama

North Korean diplomats have been negotiating in Panama for the release of the crew of a ship detained for smuggling Cuban arms

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 2:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 4:17pm

Panama’s security minister says two North Korean diplomats have left the country after trying to settle the status of the crew of a ship seized in July that was found to be carrying weapons from Cuba.

Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said on Thursday the diplomats met with top Panamanian prosecutors. He did not give details of the outcome.

Foreign ministry officials have said most of the 35 crewmen would be released and allowed to return to North Korea.

Chief drug prosecutor Javier Caraballo said last week that one option would be to detain a few, including the captain, for further investigation.

The crew is accused of illegal possession of weapons. The ship was headed from Cuba to North Korea when it was seized by authorities who suspected it carried drugs.