A Chinese torpedo boat and all 13 crew members who arrived aboard it in South Korea last week after a mutiny on the Yellow Sea will be returned to China Thursday, the South Korean government announced today.
The returning crew will include two men who according to South Korea shot six persons dead aboard the 40-ton boat and wounded two others last week after being called insulting names.
South Korea considers the killings to be "internal rebellion murders," a government statement said today. The two men face near certain execution after their return to China.
The statement also said that South Korea had received a written apology from China for an intrusion into territorial waters Saturday by Chinese naval vessels that were searching for the boat. The note, conveyed to the South Korean consul general in Hong Kong, promised that such an intrusion would not be repeated and that steps would be taken concerning the officials responsible.
The torpedo boat and its crew are to be turned over to the Chinese at a point in international waters between the two countries, according to the statement. Bodies of the six dead also will be returned.
South Korea announced yesterday that members of the crew had said they wished to return to China.
Last year, South Korea allowed six Chinese who had hijacked an airliner to South Korea in 1983 to go to Taiwan after serving part of prison sentences they were given for the hijacking.
This marks the first time that the South Koreans have returned Chinese to face punishment in their country. But previous incidents have not involved loss of life.
China and South Korea, which have no diplomatic relations, have slowly been fostering unofficial ties recently.