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Court Orders North Korea to Pay Family of Otto Warmbier $500M

The family of the late student detained in the Hermit Kingdom for a year wanted $1 billion
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2018 2:15 PM CST
American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang.   (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File)

(Newser) – A court has ordered North Korea to pay the family of the late Otto Warmbier the massive sum of $501 million for what a judge called the country's role in the ‘torture, hostage taking and extrajudicial killing’ of the 22-year-old University of Virginia student, Newsweek reports. Per Bloomberg, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia awarded Warmbier's family $450 million in punitive damages plus pain and suffering and medical costs incurred after Warmbier was returned from the DPRK in a comatose state in 2017 following his arrest during a visit for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel.

Earlier this year, Warmbier's parents accused the regime in Pyongyang of torturing and killing their son and sought a staggering $1.05 billion in punitive damages. "We don’t fear North Korea anymore,” his father, Fred Warmbier, said during an emotional court hearing this month attended by family and many of Warmbier's now-graduated friends from UVa, reports the Washington Post. So what are the chances of the Warmbiers collecting their enormous sum? Not too good, an attorney who has handled similar cases tells the Enquirer. Typically, any payouts in these kinds of lawsuits come as a result of the US seizing foreign assets. But North Korea is so economically isolated, that would likely not work. (Last month, North Korea agreed to deport an American citizen it detained for illegally entering the country.)

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