Panama court sentences 2 North Koreans in absentia to 12 years for smuggling Cuban weapons

A Panamanian court has sentenced two North Koreans to 12 years in prison in absentia for arms trafficking.

The two men left the country in 2014.

The alleged smugglers were crew members on a North Korean ship that attempted to pass through the Panama Canal with contraband in 2013. The ship was held in the Atlantic after inspectors found undeclared Cuban military equipment aboard.

Capt. Ri Young II and first officer Hong Young Hyon were convicted of possession and trafficking of weapons and explosives. They had previously been acquitted by a lower court, but that ruling was overturned.

Their sentence was handed down May 25, but it was not made public until Monday.