The crew on a North Korean vessel 'rioted' when it was seized in Panama according to the president. President Ricardo Martinelli said the ship had sailed from Cuba and tried to illegally smuggle suspected sophisticated missile material through the Panama Canal.
The president described the dramatic scenes on the ship speaking on Radio Panama:
The world needs to sit up and take note: you cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal.
We had suspected this ship, which was coming from Cuba and headed to North Korea, might have drugs aboard so it was brought into port for search and inspection.
When we started to unload the shipment of sugar we located containers that we believe to be sophisticated missile equipment, and that is not allowed
– President Ricardo Martinelli
The captain has tried to commit suicide, and the crew also rioted.
So we are holding this vessel for further investigation.
Cuba is the only one-party Communist regime in the Americas, and a rare ally of also-isolated Pyongyang.