Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
The Belarusian and Kazakh crew members busted in Bangkok on 11 December in a weapons-laden plane from Pyongyang will be deported to their home countries to face trial. The plane and weapons will remain in Thailand.
The decision to release the crew came after the attorney general’s office announced it was dropping charges of arms smuggling against all five men. The government was not pursuing the case in part because “the weapons were not for use in the Thai kingdom,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said. The crew was refueling in Thailand, and the government had no obligation under a United Nations arms embargo imposed on North Korea to carry out any action against the crew, the statement said.
Despite the Thai Government receiving a collective pat on the back from the UN and being able to bask in a bit of media attention, the seizure of the missile plane and detention of its crew was causing headaches for Thai authorities. Kazakh and Belarusian diplomats protested the crew’s extended detention. The Thai, however, were more hard pressed over money. There were reports two weeks ago that Thai authorities were already fretting the costs of the crew’s detention, the invesitgation and possible trial. The Thai also clung to the assumption that the government would be remunerated for complying with the UN resolutions, or at least keep the confiscated weapons to train military personnel.