Otto Warmbier’s parents, who sued the North Korea government for the wrongful death of their son, had a federal judge rule in their favor and say that the North Korean regime had to pay them half a billion dollars.
North Korea detained and reportedly tortured the student for almost a year and a half before releasing him and returning him to the U.S. where he died shortly after. The judge who issued the ruling, Beryl A. Howell, recounted details of Warmbier’s gruesome experience in North Korea as well as moving lines of the student’s mother’s testimony.
“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 United States,” the judge wrote.
Otto Warmbier was detained in 2016 while on tour in North Korea under charges of stealing a political poster from a restricted floor in his hotel. He was allowed to return to his home country in the summer of 2017 after negotiations led by the Trump administration, CNN writes.
His time in North Korean detention had resulted in severe brain damage and other injuries, which in turn led to his death only days later.
On Monday, his parents thanked Judge Howell, saying the decision was a “significant step on our journey.”
“We are thankful that the United States has a fair and open judicial system so that the world can see that the Kim regime is legally and morally responsible for Otto’s death. We put ourselves and our family through the ordeal of a lawsuit and public trial because we promised Otto that we will never rest until we have justice for him,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said.
“As a family, mother, father, sister and brother, we would like to thank all those who knew and loved Otto, and for all those who supported us and our mission to hold Kim liable for his actions,” they added, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The Kim regime did not respond to the lawsuit.