Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. Isaiah 3:10-11 (The Israel Bible™)
Washington D.C. District Court judge Beryl Howell has ordered North Korea to pay $501 million to the family of Otto Warmbier, a Jewish student who was imprisoned in the country and died just days after his release as a result of his poor treatment.
The court on Monday awarded the Warmbiers approximately half the verdict they had requested.
Otto Warmbier traveled to Hong Kong for a study-abroad program and decided to visit North Korea on a guided tour. He was accused in January 2016 of attempting to steal a political banner that read “Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il’s patriotism!”
He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor.
In June 2017, after a series of high-level negotiations, Warmbier was released, but was soon discovered to have suffered severe brain damage and arrived home to his family in Cincinnati in a coma. He died six days later while hospitalized.
Cindy and Fred Warmbier, Otto’s parents, have accused North Korea of “repeatedly [lying] about the causes of Otto’s condition,” including failing to “acknowledge its abhorrent actions.” The couple accused North Korea of torturing and murdering Otto, a charge denied by North Korea.
In their campaign to free Otto, the Warmbiers kept his Jewish identity a secret for fear of embarrassing and enraging the North Korean regime, which had accused Warmbier of stealing the sign at the behest of a Methodist church in which he was said to be a member.
Judge Howell ruled that Otto’s estate is entitled to $150 million in punitive damages and $21 million in damages, and that his parents are each entitled to $150 million in punitive damages and $15 million in compensatory damages.