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Federal judge orders North Korea to pay $500M in damages to family of Otto Warmbier

A federal judge on Monday ordered North Korea to pay more than $500 million in damages to the family of college student Otto Warmbier, whose death prompted a lawsuit.

“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,” Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in a strongly worded opinion.

Otto Warmbier, 22, was a college student who was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for attempted theft. He allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda poster during a guided tour, and was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment with hard labor.

North Korea claimed he had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause in June 2017, and was freed that same month. He never regained consciousness after returning to the U.S., and he died on June 19, 2017.

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