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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid