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A federal judge in New York has ordered the state comptroller there to give $240,000 seized from a North Korean bank account to the parents of Otto Warmbier.
The money is partial payment toward the more than $501 million Fred and Cindy Warmbier of Wyoming won from a different federal judge in Washington, D.C., in 2018.
That judge ruled that North Korea was responsible for the death of their son in 2017, at the age of 22, because the government kidnapped and tortured him.
Neither North Korea nor the North Korean bank from which the funds were seized responded to the legal action the Warmbiers filed in U.S. District Court in Washington in 2018.
Nor did they respond to the legal action the Warmbiers filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in March 2021 to collect the $240,340. The United States seized the money from North Korea on the grounds it could be used for terrorism.
Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was ending a tour of North Korea with other young people in January 2016 when authorities arrested him at the airport in Pyongyang.
Three weeks later, a distraught Warmbier “confessed” to stealing a political poster from a hotel.
After a show trial for crimes against the state, he was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor and his family heard nothing from him for 15 months.
North Korea released Warmbier in June 2017, saying he was suffering from botulism, a bacterial toxin that affects the nervous system.
He returned to Cincinnati with a massive brain injury that left him blind, deaf and unable to move under his own power.
Doctors in Cincinnati found no evidence of botulism in Warmbier’s body and he died a week later.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Otto Warmbier: Judge awards money seized from North Korean bank to parents