The US Court Ordered N. Korea to Pay $501mn Over Otto Warmbier’s Death

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(— December 25, 2018) — A federal judge in Washington ordered North Korea to pay total sum of $501,134,683.80  to the family of American student Otto Warmbier who died shortly after being released from the North Korean prison he was held in.

District Judge Beryl A. Howell’s verdict is a symbolic victory, since there is no mechanism that could force North Korea to pay compensation.

“An American family, the Warmbiers, experienced North Korea’s brutality first-hand when North Korea seized their son to use as a pawn in that totalitarian state’s global shenanigans and face-off with the US,” Howell wrote.

Warmbier was arrested in North Korea in March 2016 during a group visit, on the suspicion of subversive acting as he allegedly stole a propaganda poster from a hotel’s wall.

At his trial Warmbier was recorded emotionally admitting guilt but US authorities believe he was tortured. Shortly after he was released from prison Warmbier went into the coma under unexplained circumstances. Soon after he died.

Judge Howell ordered N. Korea to pay a substantial sum as reparations for 22-year-old Otto Warmbier having been tortured during his 17-month detention in a North Korean work camp in 2016, which allegedly resulted in his coma and eventual death, Russia Today reports.

It is unclear, however, how exactly the U.S. would force N. Korea to pay the sum considering the fact that North Korea has very few, if any, assets which the US government could seize. Also, N. Korea ignored the U.S. court ruling as completely irrelevant.

According to the judge, the actual number stated in the lawsuit is payment due for North Korea’s liability in “the torture, hostage-taking, and extrajudicial killing of Otto Warmbier.” Also, the judge considered the related emotional trauma and expenses to his mother and father.

Despite these claims, the Coroner’s office in Warmbier’s home-state of Ohio stated that the body and skin were in “excellent condition” for a potential autopsy and showed no clear signs of torture.

Otto’s parents, however, denied an autopsy, which puts the accounting behind the $501,134,683.80 in punitive damages into serious question.