October 31, 2014
PANAMA CITY (AP) - A Panamanian official says the nation will soon decide whether to file weapon charges against the crew detained in July aboard a North Korean ship carrying Cuban fighter jets and missiles or send them back home.
Anti-drug prosecutor Javier Caraballo said Friday that a decision is expected in early November.
Panama is expecting a visit soon by North Korean diplomats who want to press for the 35 crew members' return.
The ship was headed from Cuba to North Korea when it was seized July 15 by authorities who suspected it carried drugs. A Panamanian official said the ship carried two Cuban fighter jets in perfect condition, contradicting Cuba's explanation that the cargo included "obsolete defensive weapons."
A preliminary report by U.N. experts determined that the seized ship violated U.N. sanctions.
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