Otto Warmbier’s parents sue North Korea over son’s death
The parents of Otto Warmbier are accusing North Korea of murdering their son and torturing him during his 18 months in captivity in the reclusive regime in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, according to a report.
The 22-year-old University of Virginia undergrad returned from the hermit kingdom in a coma in June 2017 and died a week later.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the boy’s parents, aim to hold Kim Jong Un’s “criminal” regime legally accountable for their son’s death.
Their complaint, filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia, details bluntly how their son, a former homecoming king and soccer star, was “brutally” abused after he was detained during a 2015 trip to Pyongyang, according to the Washington Post.
In a statement, Fred Warmbier said his son was “taken hostage, kept as a prisoner for political purposes, used as a pawn and singled out for exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment by Kim Jong Un.”
Warmbier charges that while Kim’s regime is feigning innocence it “intentionally destroyed” his son’s life.
“This lawsuit is another step in holding North Korea accountable for its barbaric treatment of Otto and our family,” he said.
It comes a day before a high-stakes inter-Korea summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-In.
Warmbier went to North Korea as part of a program run by Young Pioneers Tours, a Chinese company that catered to Western tourists.
When the group was set to depart after five days of touring, Warmbier was detained “without explanation” at the airport, the complaint states.
North Korean officials forced Warmbier to falsely confess to invented accusations that he was a CIA spy, the legal filing states.
When his parents met him at the Cincinnati airport 17 ½ months later the student had “a shaved head, a feeding tube coming out of his nose, was jerking violently and howling, and was completely unresponsive to any efforts to comfort him.”
North Korean officials said he’d contracted botulism — a rare poisoning caused by toxins in improperly sterilized canned foods.
The lawsuit asks for a monetary award to be determined by the court and punitive damages related to Warmbier’s alleged torture and death, and his family’s emotional suffering.
The money would come from a Congressional fund created in 2015 and administered by the Justice Department to victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
President Trump’s administration placed North Korea on the state-sponsored terror list in November, opening the door for this lawsuit.
A source told the Washington Post that the White House supports the lawsuit but did not have a role in drafting it.
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