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Panamanian court acquits N.Korean ship crew

A Panamanian court has acquitted a captain and 2 crewmembers of a North Korean freighter that was carrying a large amount of undeclared weapons from Cuba to North Korea.

The court said on Friday the charges against them fell outside Panama's jurisdiction and should be decided under international law.

It said the 3 crew members cannot be charged as individuals because they were merely following North Korean orders.

The court suggested that the Panamanian government ask international organizations such as the UN Security Council to judge the case.

The court freed the crew but ordered that the weapons be confiscated.

Panamanian authorities seized the freighter off Panama last July. The ship was found carrying weapons including Soviet-era fighter jets and missile parts.

The authorities charged the crew with arms smuggling.

North Korea and Cuba argued that the obsolete weapons were being sent for repairs.

Thirty-two other crewmembers on board the ship were allowed to sail it back to North Korea in February after the owner paid a fine of 700,000 dollars.

Jun. 28, 2014 - Updated 08:17 UTC