Detained Crew to Seek Compensation

The captain and crew
of a North Korean vessel that was seized and impounded by the government of
Panama are to file suit for compensation, Voice of America reported today.

Attorney Julio Berrios,
acting for the North Korean side, is reported as saying that the Panamanian
government must “take a responsibility for the year-long period of detention during
which crew members Captain Lee Young Il, Chief Mate Hong Yong Hyun and Political
Officer Kim Young Geol were deprived of their freedom as well as pay.”

All members of the
crew were found not guilty of trafficking in undeclared weapons and left Panama
on July 12th, five months after thirty-two other crewmembers
were released and returned to North Korea. 

“Although I haven’t received
payroll data from the vessel operator as yet, in the case of the captain we
will demand at least $18,000 USD of compensation, as his monthly salary was $1,500
USD,” Berrios alleged. 

He also explained
that the North Korean government is hoping to receive compensation for damages
done to the vessel’s cargo. The total price for ten thousand tons of sugar is more than $5m USD,
he asserted.

However, he emphasized,
“The North Korean side wants a diplomatic solution rather than a legal
solution.”

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