Tags: NKorea | arms | smuggler | plane

NKorea Arms Plane Linked to Europe Smugglers

Monday, 14 Dec 2009 11:56 PM


The weapons laden plane seized in Bangkok en route from North Korea at the weekend has been linked to two renowned East European arms traffickers by a respected Swedish think tank in the latest twist in the mysterious saga.

The Ilyushin-76 aircraft, which was found to be carrying 35 tons of weapons including rockets and grenades, was most recently registered under a company called Beibars, linked to Serbian arms dealer Tomislav Dmanjanovic. It had previously been registered with three companies identified by the US Department of the Treasury as firms controlled by the notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Hugh Griffiths, who monitors air cargo companies involved in arms trafficking for SIPRI, said other past owners of the aircraft had also been documented by the UN as trafficking arms to Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Chad

"The mystery surrounding this aircraft is solved," said Mr Griffiths, whose institute is a world leader in tracking the arms trade and analysing military spending. "Now investigators know who to question to find out the ultimate destination of the weapons."

The East European crew of the plane, which had made an unscheduled stop at Bangkok airport to refuel, are being held in custody for 12 days to give Thai police more time to investigate what seems to be the biggest bust yet in the international arms embargo against North Korea.

To read full UK Times Online story — Go Here Now.

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