BANGKOK : Thailand said on Thursday it had decided to drop charges against the crew of a plane carrying sanctions-busting weapons from North Korea and ordered the five men deported.
The attorney general’s office said it was not in the national interest to pursue the case against the Belarussian pilot and four-member Kazakh crew and said they would instead face trial in their home countries.
“The trial here will not benefit Thailand so we have decided to drop the charges,” Thanapich Mulapruk, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement.
“Their countries of origin want to try the men in their home countries.”
No decision has been taken on what to do with the seized haul, which was found December 11 on a US tip-off after the crew requested to land their Ilyushin-76 plane at Thailand’s domestic Don Mueang airport for refuelling.
The men, who claimed they were carrying oil drilling equipment bound for Ukraine, were initially charged with possessing illegal weapons and ammunition, smuggling weapons and other banned products and failing to report the cache.
The 35-tonne cargo, which included missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, is now being held at an air force base north of Bangkok.