‘Return to Sender’: North Korea Rejects Warmbier Ruling by Refusing to Accept Papers

FILE - In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week after almost a year and a half in captivity, died …
Jon Chol Jin/AP

According to a South Korean media report on Tuesday, North Korea has not only rejected a U.S. court ruling in the death of Otto Warmbier, but it also refused to take delivery of the paperwork sent to Pyongyang using the DHL courier service.

South Korea’s Yonhap News reported the rejected envelope was addressed to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and contained “the ruling on the case and the judge’s written opinion, as well as the documents translated into Korean.” The attempted delivery took place on Friday.

Warmbier was arrested in North Korea in January 2016, accused of stealing a propaganda poster from the hotel where he was staying. The North Koreans returned him to his family comatose in July 2017 after he supposedly collapsed in prison. He died a few days after he was returned.

The lawsuit filed by Warmbier’s parents was summarized on Tuesday by International Business Times:

After his death, Warmbier’s parents filed a suit for compensation worth $1.1 billion and the court ordered North Korea to compensate his parents for damages for pain, suffering and medical expenses. The lawsuit describes in detail the physical abuse he suffered while he was in custody. He had gone blind and deaf, was jerking violently and was totally unresponsive. North Korea claimed that Warmbier was in a coma because of a food poisoning disease botulism but doctors were unable to find any traces of botulism or the cause of any of his injuries.

Warmbier’s parents were later informed that he had been comatose for almost a year before he was brought back to the US.

Though the ruling by the US District Court held Pyongyang responsible for Warmbier’s death, North Korea has denied any responsibility for the same.

The ruling rejected by North Korea ordered its government to pay the Warmbier family $450 million in punitive damages plus $50 million for “pain and suffering” plus medical costs. The ruling was issued on January 16 and took about two weeks to reach Pyongyang.


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