South expels 2 N. Koreans suspected of killing 16 fishermen

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Photo/IllutrationNorth Korean soldiers look at the South side as a South Korean soldier, foreground right, stands during a press tour at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, on June 12. (AP Photo)

SEOUL–South Korea expelled on Thursday two North Korean fishermen suspected of killing 16 colleagues before crossing the border into the South last week, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.

The two men, both in their 20s, breached the inter-Korean maritime frontier into the South aboard a squid fishing boat on Saturday and South Korean authorities detained them for questioning, ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said.

The authorities concluded after their investigation that the men had fled to the South after killing 16 other men on the vessel, Lee said.

“The government decided to expel them as they had committed grave, non-political crimes such as murder and were not subject to our protection under the law,” Lee told a briefing.

Lee did not elaborate on why or how the two men had killed their colleagues.

They were handed over at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, Lee said.