A U.S. court has ordered North Korea to pay more than 500 million dollars in damages to the parents of Otto Warmbier, a college student who died in a coma after being detained in North Korea, in a ruling that has demanded the highest amount in compensation from the North for illegal detainment and torture. The verdict is expected to add to the pressure of the international community on the regime to improve human rights of its people.
Beryl Howell, District Judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., ruled on Monday (local time) that North Korea should pay the parents of Warmbier a total of 501,134,683 dollars in compensation. The judge acknowledged around 51 million dollars demanded by the family for damages for pain and suffering and medical expenses, and ordered the regime to pay 150 million dollars each to Warmbier and his parents.
“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 United States,” the judge wrote. “North Korea is liable for the torture, hostage-taking, and extrajudicial killing of Otto Warmbier, and the injuries to his mother and father.”
The legal team representing the family is expected to convey the written judgement to North Korea’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ri Yong Ho via an international mail. Yet, it is highly unlikely for Pyongyang to pay the amount. The regime has insisted that Warmbier suffered from botulism poisoning to death, and has not responded in any way to the lawsuit filed by the Warmbiers.
Following the verdict, the parents of Warmbier said in a statement that they were “thankful that the court found the government of Kim Jong Un ‘legally and morally’ responsible for their son’s death.”