Thai court detains crew of aircraft carrying weaponsDecember 14th, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS
Bangkok, Dec 14 (DPA) A Thai court Monday ordered a 12-day detention period without bail for one Belarus national and four Kazakh citizens who landed a cargo plane with 35 tonnes of weapons at a Bangkok airport on the weekend.
The Russian-made IL76 cargo plane landed at Don Mueang Airport Saturday for refueling after a flight from Pyongyang, North Korea. Acting on a tip from US intelligence services, Thai authorities boarded the plane and discovered 35 tonnes of weapons, including missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Police impounded the plane and detained the five crew members, who were identified as Kazakh passport holders Alexandr Zrybnev, 53, Viktor Abdullayev, 58, Vitaliy Shumkov, 54, Ilyas Issakov, 53, and Belarus national Mikhail Petukhov, 54.
Petukhov, the pilot, told police that he was unaware of the weapons in the shipment, which he claimed was bound for Ukraine.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva confirmed on the weekend that the Georgia-registered aircraft had taken off from Pyongyang, and the arms came from a North Korean company.
According to unconfirmed news reports, the plane used to belong to a private Kazakh company but was sold to Air West Georgia in October.
The crew requested permission to land for refuelling in Bangkok and then lied to inspectors about its cargo, claiming to be carrying oil-drilling equipment.
The weapons were transferred to an armed forces depot in Nakhon Sawan, in central Thailand.
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