Parents of Student Who Died After North Korea Imprisonment Sue for Wrongful Death
North Korea has been in the news a lot lately. From "Little Rocket Man's" missile testing to diplomatic talks between the North and South, and a potential meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, the hermit kingdom has garnered a lot of attention.
However, as the Korean War officially comes to an end, the parents of a student who died while imprisoned in North Korea are remaining steadfast in their own battle with the "rogue nation." The parents of Otto Warmbier filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Korea, claiming their son was tortured and murdered.
Who Is Otto Warmbier?
Otto Warmbier was a 22-year-old University of Virginia student from Cincinnati, Ohio. He went to North Korea for five days with a tour group and was arrested Jan. 2, 2016 for allegedly taking a political propaganda poster from his hotel. He was charged with and found guilty of "hostile acts against the state" and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. For taking down a sign, mind you.
After spending more than 17 months in a North Korean prison, Warmbier was released to the United States in a coma, and had reportedly been in that condition for over a year. North Korean authorities claimed Warmbier had botulism and had been given a sleeping pill as treatment.
Lawsuit Claims North Korea Tortured, Murder Son
Cynthia and Fred Warmbier's wrongful death lawsuit claims that North Korea forced Otto into a false confession of his crime, "kept him as a prisoner for political purposes," and singled him out for "exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment." They say that physicians found no evidence of botulism, and that he was returned to them blind, deaf, and with his teeth misaligned like they "had been forced into abnormal positions."
In addition to their wrongful death claims, the grieving parents say that as a result of their son's "torture and death," they've suffered the loss of their son's companionship, and have experienced "mental anguish, extreme emotional distress and solatium damages."
As a sovereign nation, North Korea would normally be immune from these types of lawsuits. But according to Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary of homeland security, the parents may be able to move forward with their lawsuit because President Trump re-designated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism last November. This categorization could allow the country to be sued.
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