Friday, February 12, 2010

Thailand to deport crew of aircraft carrying illicit arms

Friday, 12 February 2010 08:34 Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Thailand’s judiciary on Thursday said it will not indict five crew members arrested from an aircraft carrying illicit armaments which landed in Bangkok at the end of last year, arguing that a trial could negatively impact relations between Thailand and related countries.

Kayasit Pitsawongprakarn, Crime Division Director General in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), announced it was decided not to indict the five foreigners, who were found to be transporting an array of weapons when they landed for refueling at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport.

“The trial of the five will not be beneficial to Thailand. The countries that they belong to have urged the Thai government to send them back for trial in their own countries,” he said, according to a report on the Public Relations Department of Thailand’s website on Thursday.

Recently, the governments of Belarus and Kazakhstan submitted letters through Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting the temporary release of crew members to face investigation in their home countries.

The seizure was made on December 12th of last year after more than 100 Thai security officials searched a Russian-built IL-76 military transport upon arrival from North Korea.

The action was in keeping with U.N. Resolution 1874, adopted after North Korea's second nuclear test in May of 2009, which established an arms embargo against North Korea aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as conventional arms.

OAG Special Cases Division Director General Thanapit Moonlapruek explained the agency decided not to indict the aircrew after concluding that the arms found in the aircraft were not intended for use in Thailand as they had landed in Bangkok only to refuel before continuing onto their intended destination.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Thani Thingpakdi extrapolated, commenting, "The U.N. resolution is limited to inspecting and seizure of sanctioned items but doesn't say anything about prosecuting the crew.”

"But the cargo will be seized and disposed of," Thani added. The 35-ton cache included scores of anti-aircraft missile launchers, grenade launchers and ammunition.

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