U.S. court orders North Korea to pay $501 million in death of U.S. student
Marje Pelayo • December 25, 2018 • 3404
American citizen Otto Warmbier during his trial in North Korea in March 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
A U.S. court on Monday (December 24) ordered Pyongyang to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death U.S. college student Otto Wambier, who died shortly in 2017 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 in the United States days after being released from captivity in a coma. An Ohio coroner said the cause of death was lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.
“The plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment is granted,” said Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in her ruling.
“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,” Howell said.
Pyongyang has blamed botulism and ingestion of a sleeping pill for Warmbier’s death and dismissed torture claims.
The ruling comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-North Korea diplomatic relations, as the sides negotiate the dismantling of Pyongyang’s weapons program. – REUTERS
North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.
Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.
The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.
Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has presided over a meeting of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission and decided to suspend military action plans against South Korea, the official KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday (June 24).
The video conference meeting on Tuesday (June 23) also discussed documents outlining measures for “further bolstering the war deterrent of the country,” KCNA reported.
The committee members “took stock of the prevailing situation” before deciding to suspend the military plans, the report said, without elaborating.
Political tensions between the rival Koreas have been rising over Pyongyang’s objections to plans by defector-led groups in the South to fly propaganda leaflets over to the North. (Reuters)
North Korea blew up and destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong on Tuesday (June 16), South Korea said, after Pyongyang threatened to take action if defector groups push ahead with their campaign to send propaganda leaflets into North Korea.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Television reported that an explosion was heard and aired a video of smoke seen over Kaesong, and the South’s Unification Ministry said the liaison office had been destroyed.
A South Korean military source told Reuters that there were signs of the impending demolition earlier in the day, and South Korean military officials watched live surveillance imagery of the building as it was blown up.
Tensions have risen as Pyongyang threatened to sever inter-Korean ties and take retaliatory measures over the leaflets, which carry messages critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including human rights abuses. (Reuters)
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