Ohio family sues North Korea over son's 'detention, torture, and killing'

(Courtesy: Warmbier family)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) - The family of an Ohio man, who died shortly after his return from imprisonment in North Korea, has filed a wrongful death suit against the Asian country claiming his detainment and alleged torture led to his death.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier filed the suit against North Korea in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., claiming the country’s regime tortured and killed their son, 22-year-old Otto Warmbier. The Cincinnati resident and University of Virginia student passed away less than a week after his return to the U.S. in June 2017 following his 18-month imprisonment. Upon arriving back in Cincinnati, he was diagnosed with severe brain damage and in a non-responsive state.

“Otto was taken hostage, kept as a prisoner for political purposes, used as a pawn and singled out for exceptionally harsh and brutal treatment by Kim Jong Un. Kim and his regime have portrayed themselves as innocent, while they intentionally destroyed our son’s life. This lawsuit is another step in holding North Korea accountable for its barbaric treatment of Otto and our family," Fred Warmbier said in a statement.

Otto Warmbier was taken into detention by North Korea in January 2016 on subversion charges and convicted by the country's Supreme Court two months later, being convicted. He was arrested as he tried to leave the country after visiting as a tourist with a New Year's tour group.

In a statement made before his trial, he told a gathering of reporters he wanted steal a propaganda banner "as a trophy" for the mother of a friend.

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