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Smugglers of North Korea coal given suspended sentences in the South

By Elizabeth Shim
Smugglers of North Korea coal given suspended sentences in the South
A South Korean court in the city of Busan (pictured) has given suspended sentences to violators of North Korea coal sanctions. File Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI

July 14 (UPI) -- A South Korean court has suspended prison terms for three local defendants who were convicted of smuggling North Korean anthracite coal into the country.

The three defendants, who remain unidentified, imported more than $1.35 million of coal into the South, in violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions, Yonhap news agency reported Sunday.

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Busan Criminal District Court's fifth division sentenced defendant "A," 49, to 2 years in jail with a stay of execution for three years, defendant "B," 46, to 1 year and 6 months in jail suspended for 2 years, and "C," 40, to 10 months with a suspension of execution for 2 years, according to the report.

The defendants are guilty of smuggling North Korean coal and declaring them as imports from China and Vietnam.

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Fines against the defendants have also been suspended. Defendant A's fine of approximately $233,000 and defendant B's fine of $222,000 will be suspended, according to the court.

According to the South Korean ruling, defendants A and B declared 5,049 tons of North Korean anthracite coal as Chinese imports. The coal was smuggled into the South for about $450,000 in 2017.

In 2018, defendants A and C imported nearly $1 million worth of North Korean coal, falsely declaring the item as imports from Vietnam.

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Sentences are being suspended for illicit imports of North Korean coal at a time when the South Korean military is falling under increased scrutiny, following the failure to intercept a North Korean fishing boat for 57 hours in June.

Local paper Hankyoreh reported Sunday a South Korean sailor of the navy's second fleet command left his guard post, without permission, on the evening of July 4 to access a vending machine, then "fled" when he was confronted by a colleague. His supervisor also told him to provide a false account of his misconduct, according to the report.

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