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Thailand Frees Georgia-registered Ilyushin 76 Crew

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Thailand Frees Georgia-registered Ilyushin 76 Crew

Old 11th Feb 2010, 13:43
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Thailand Frees Georgia-registered Ilyushin 76 Crew

The diplomats have done their job and the crew and aircraft are free.

Bangkok - Attorney general on Thursday decided not to indict five foreign crew members of a Georgia-registered aircraft impounded in Bangkok in December after authorities discovered arms from North Korea on board.

"There is no benefit to the country to charge them because they have no intention to use these weapons here," said Kayasit Phitsawongprakan, spokesman of the Office of the Attorney General.
Belarus pilot Mikhail Petukhov, 54, and Kazakhstan nationals Alexander Zrybnev, 53; Viktor Abdullaev, 58; Vitaly Shumkov, 54; and Ilias Isakov, 53, have been under detention since their aircraft was impounded at Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport on December 12.

The decision not to indict the crew for arms trafficking does not mean they are to go free. Under an agreement with Belarus and Kazakhstan, the five men are to be shifted to immigration police custody and deported to their homelands, where they may face charges.
The Thai cabinet had advised the attorney general that a decision to indict the crew might adversely affect the country's bilateral relations with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Thailand was obliged under United Nations National Security Council resolution against North Korea to impound the aircraft and seize the weapons on board, which were supposedly destined for Iran.

"The UN resolution is limited to inspecting and seizure of sanction items but doesn't say anything about prosecuting the crew," Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thingpakdi said.
"But the cargo will be seized and disposed of," Thani added. Thailand has asked for advice from the UN on what to do with the cargo, which included a score of anti-aircraft missile launchers and many grenade launchers.
The weapons have been transferred to an armed forces depot in Nakhon Sawan in central Thailand.
The Georgia-registered Ilyushin 76 aircraft was en route from Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. It was searched after a tip-off from the United States intelligence services
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Old 11th Feb 2010, 15:02
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The back story here is that the US/CIA tipped off the Thai authorities regarding this flight.

The crew have been locked up for a couple of months but to be truthful they seem to have benefited from their loss of weight due to the Thai prison food.

They were very overweight when they first appeared in the papers a few months ago but now look fit and healthy.

The diplomats have done their job and the bottom line is that the crew and aircraft never entered Thailand staying as such on the international side and just re-fueling. I'm sure Thailand would not like one of their aircraft impounded in the former Russian states.

So they are going home but the Americans are very angry.

Now just imagine if this was a CIA aircraft impounded in Asia
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