Pyongyang slams planned USA military exercises with S. Korea

South Korea Deports North Korean Fishermen Who Allegedly Murdered Their Own Crew

South Korea said Thursday it expelled two North Korean men after learning they murdered 16 crew members on their fishing boat before fleeing to the South. It sends a signal to other North Korean escapees that South Korea no longer welcomes them.

Ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said South Korea made a decision to expel the two fishermen to North Korea because they were "heinous criminals" who could not be recognized as refugees under global laws. It said a South Korean investigation later found the two had killed 16 colleagues aboard a fishing boat and escaped to South Korea.

The three men sailed back to Kimchaek port, North Korea, but after one man was arrested, the two fled using the same boat, the Unification Ministry said.

While fishing in waters near Russian Federation the two men collaborated with another crew member and killed the captain, ABC news reports.

Sources say the attackers used axes and hammers as weapons, but that the evidence was covered up.

The bodies were dumped overboard.

North Korea has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including public executions, torture and prison camps holding up to 120,000 people, according to a United Nations estimate. "In doing so, South Korea has undermined its national constitution, which recognizes all North Koreans as citizens of South Korea, granting them the right to live in the South and be protected by its legal system".

China regards defectors as illegal migrants, rather than refugees, and often forcibly repatriates them. It was the South's first deportation of North Koreans through Panmunjom.

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"I'm so devastated thinking how human rights has become an empty word", Kim said.

"What's really, really troubling is that the South Korean authorities took only three days to issue these two men a death sentence", he said.

"You have legitimized a system in North Korea that routinely tortures, that denies due process, that punishes with extraordinary brutality".

"It is de facto truth that the two criminals have a high chance of extrajudicial executions", she said.

The allies suspended or scaled back several exercises past year in the wake of the first summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June 2018.

The nuclear diplomacy largely remains deadlocked since a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed in February.

There were 1,127 defections from North to South in 2017, according to data from Seoul. That is down from a peak of 2,914 in 2009.

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