U.S. court orders North Korea to pay $501 million in U.S. student’s death

Vastavam web: A U.S. court on Monday ordered Pyongyang to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who died in 2017 shortly after being released from a North Korea prison. Warmbier’s parents sued North Korea in April over their son’s death. The 22-year-old student died days after he was returned to the United States in a coma, and an Ohio coroner said the cause of death was lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. Pyongyang has blamed botulism and ingestion of a sleeping pill for Warmbier’s death and dismissed torture claims.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement they had promised their son justice. “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 Warmbiers said. Howell’s ruling was a default judgement, a type of decision entered against a party that does not appear in court. Default judgments against foreign defendants are often difficult to collect.

U.S. courts can compensate default judgement holders by ordering the seizure of funds or other assets located within the country, but that is unlikely in this case because sanctions prohibit North Korea from accessing the U.S. financial system. President Donald Trump has said Warmbier did not die in vain and his death helped initiate a process that led to a historic meeting this year between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump said in a Twitter message on Monday: “Christmas Eve briefing with my team working on North Korea Progress being made. Looking forward to my next summit with Chairman Kim!” He gave no other details. U.S. officials have said a second meeting between Trump and Kim is likely in the new year.