News / Asia

Panama Lawyer: N. Korea Crew Prosecution Illegal

North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang anchored in Sherman Bay near Colon City, Panama, Feb. 12, 2014.
North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang anchored in Sherman Bay near Colon City, Panama, Feb. 12, 2014.
Yonho KimJee Abbey Lee
A Panamanian lawyer representing detained crew members of the North Korean cargo vessel Chong Chon Gang says his clients are being held responsible twice for one crime, a move he calls illegal.

Julio Berrios said in an e-mail to the VOA Korean service that the criminal indictment, which followed a $1 million fine for the captain and two other sailors, is double jeopardy, which prohibits a defendant from being tried again on the same or similar charges. 

“If the national law is strictly applied, the sailors should be acquitted,” Berrios argued.

Berrios also maintains the three crew members did not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions because they only apply to governments and not individuals.

He added that the North Koreans should be exempt from criminal prosecution because they were merely following orders from Pyongyang.

The prosecutor of the case, Robert Moreno, has rejected that defense. Earlier this month, he told VOA it was not a valid defense because the orders from Pyongyang were not lawful.

Moreno added that Panamanian prosecutors found e-mails from North Korean authorities to the captain, in which he was told not to declare the content of his cargo, proving that he was aware his shipment was illegal.

Authorities in Panama seized the Chong Chon Gang last July after reports circulated that the North Korean-flagged ship was transporting illegal drugs. Instead, the vessel was found to be carrying weapons in violation of international sanctions against North Korea.

Thirty-two of the ship’s crew members were released in February after North Korea paid $690,000 in fines; however, the ship’s captain and two others were charged for trafficking illegal weapons.

When asked about the sailors' health, Berrios said they are doing well. “The guards [at La Hoya Penitentiary] are treating the Chong Chon Gang officers with respect,” the attorney added.

Berrios himself visits his clients at least twice a week.  

A ruling on the case is expected later this month.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More