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Monday, August 26 2019 @ 01:54 am EDT

North Korean Vessel Chong Chon Gang Will Sail From Panama After Paying Fine

Panama NewsThe North Korean ship Chong Chong Gang, seized in Panama since July last year for carrying undeclared Cuban arms under a cargo of sugar, may depart immediately after those responsible for the vessel paid the fine imposed by the Panama Canal Authority for violating navigation rules of the waterway.

The ACP said in a press release issued today representatives responsible for the vessel Chong Chon Gang paid the $693,333 fine that hung over the ship.

"With the payment received, and in strict compliance with its processes, the ACP authorized the departure of the ship, so therefore its representatives can dispose of it immediately," said the statement.

The ACP specified that in the case of the North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang, their only responsibility is for the infractions and offenses committed by this vessel against the rules of the Panama Canal, which are unrelated to any other possible faults that might have occurred outside the jurisdiction of the Panama Canal.

The Public Ministry of Panama reported on Wednesday that it will auction off the 10,000 tonnes of sugar used to conceal the undeclared Cuban arsenal.

The Government of Panama had held the North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang since last July , when it was searched on suspicion of carrying drugs, but what was found was an arsenal of weapons that Cuba later acknowledged to be theirs.

The weapons, including missile platforms, two MIG-21 fighter jets, new motors for these aircraft, and other parts and ammunition were unloaded and taken to a hangar near Panama City.

The ship's 35 North Korean crewmen are still in Panama. Thirty two of them are waiting to be repatriated and the other three are facing charges including endangering the public safety, a crime that carries up to 12 years in prison.

The 32 sailors are still being held in a naval base of the Panamanian police, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Authority for Migration (ANM) makes arrangements for their repatriation.

The destination of the weapons in the hands of the National Security Council of Panama, that has not yet been determined.

In the case of the North Korean ship carrying undeclared Cuba arms, Panama asked for help from the UN, and last August a team of experts from the Security Council came to the country to inspect the arsenal.

The UN team said in a preliminary report that in the case of the North Korean ship, it violated the resolutions that prevent Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons of any kind, according to a report issued to Panama on 28 August 2013. (Panama America)

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