North Korea has been ordered to pay more than half a billion dollars to the family of Otto Warmbier, a US citizen and student who was tortured and eventually died after being arrested by North Korean officials in 2016. Officials from the communist regime claim that Warmbier was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda picture while he was visiting the country. Warmbier was returned to the US in a comatose state in 2017, but died just days after arrival, reported Reuters. The judge ruled that in total, Pyongyang owes the family $501 million.
“North Korea is liable for the torture, hostage taking, and extrajudicial killing of Otto Warmbier, and the injuries to his mother and father, Fred and Cindy Warmbier,” said US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Beryl Howell, according to Reuters.
While some may be quick to celebrate the ruling as a victory, other experts believe it’s highly unlikely the Un regime will ever pay the money, according to one report from Fox News. Officials from North Korea continue to deny responsibility and claim that Warmbier’s dire condition was due to a combination of botulism toxicity and an overdose of sleeping pills. However, physicians in Ohio who examined the student reported that there was zero evidence of botulism in the patient.
“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,” the Otto Warmbier’s family said in court on Monday, according to Reuters.
“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,” they said. “Today’s thoughtful opinion by Chief Judge Howell is a significant step on our journey.”
It is unclear how this latest ruling will impact diplomatic relations between the US and North Korea. President Trump took to Twitter on Monday to express his readiness to meet with Kim Jong Un again in the future, but made no mention of the ruling. In contrast, the President wrote in 2017, shortly after Warmbier’s death that the loss of Otto “deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”