Il-76 held in Bangkok for arms running
13 / 12 / 2009
AN Air West Georgia Il-76 was detained in Bangkok on Saturday for smuggling arms out of North Korea.A government spokesman, Panitan Wattanayagorn, said the aircraft left the United Arab Emirates without cargo on Wednesday for Bangkok where it landed for refuelling. It then continued on to Pyongyang (North Korea) where it took on the cargo and left on Friday. Thai authorities, having been were alerted by US intelligence, then searched the aircraft and found the arms.The crewmembers – four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus – insist that they thought the cargo was only oil-drilling equipment.“They didn’t know what was in the boxes,” said their lawyer, “they were just transporting them. Their job is to pick up the cargo and go to the destination.”The crew is now facing charges of arms trafficking, violating aviation regulations and false declarations.North Korea is under an arms sale sanction after testing nuclear weapons earlier in the year. Arms sales are an important revenue for the country, bringing it an estimated US$1 billion a year selling missiles, missile parts and other weapons to a wide variety of countries, such as Iran and Syria.