Case against N. Korea over Otto Warmbier’s death is ‘highly political’
A US judge has ordered Pyongyang to pay half a billion dollars in damages to the family of American student Otto Warmbier who died after being released from North Korean custody. Following his death, Washington relisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in November 2017.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang rejects the allegation that it tortured the student prior to his death.
Richard Becker, a member of the national steering committee for the International ANSWER Coalition, called it a completely political case.
“It is tragic that this young man died. But there is no evidence to support what the judge said. The judge made a very political ruling calling North Korea ‘a totalitarian state’ and saying that it is more likely than not that he was barbarically tortured,” he continued.
Becker noted that the coroner in Hamilton, Ohio, who did the autopsy “could not rule what had caused him to lose oxygen to the brain and going into a coma sometime earlier. There is no evidence of the things that are alleged about torture, beatings or any of that.”
He also pointed out that there was no trial. “The foreign governments cannot be generally charged, cannot be tried in the US courts unless they are designated as ‘terrorist regimes’. And last November North Korea was put back on the list after having been taken off and that allowed the lawsuit to go forward. And there was no trial despite the claims there was a trial…”
Becker explained that governments of countries such as the DPRK, Cuba or others, who have been charged, do not recognize the jurisdiction, the right of a foreign government and court system – namely the US court system – to put them on trial.
This is a pseudo-diplomatic farce from what I can see as a former diplomat. Half a billion is utterly ridiculous…We know that there was already a political interference in a life of the individual. That political interference is coming probably more from the US military-industrial-Congressional complex than from the rather harsh regime in North Korea…He [Otto] has been used, possibly by both sides, as a bargaining chip. - William Mallinson, professor at Guglielmo Marconi University and a former British diplomat
In Becker’s view, the fact that an attorney for the Warmbier family, Richard Cullen, is also Vice President Mike Pence’s lawyer reaffirms that "this is a highly political case.”
“And Pence is certainly one of those who is opposed to the normalization of relations with North Korea,” Becker said.
He recalled that the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons was made at a time when it was clear that US hostility, towards countries it views as enemies, was on the rise.
He also recalled that in 2002 at the State of the Union, George W. Bush referred to the ‘axis of evil’ which was North Korea, Iraq and Iran. “It was a clearly made up term, of course, but then Iraq was invaded and destroyed as a country.”
As a result, other countries on the list could have decided to take some “extreme action” in order to defend themselves, he suggested.
“The government of North Korea developed its weapons not as offensive weapons but defensive weapons and seeking an end to the state of war that has continued now for more than 60 years between the US and North Korea,” Becker said.
“There is no question that the US nuclear weapons used to be openly known that they were based in South Korea but they were certainly on the Trident submarines which is the deadliest instrument of war… We know that those submarines and other nuclear weapon-equipped ships and planes are in striking distance off North Korea,” he noted.
“Denuclearization would need to mean an end to the nuclear threat to North Korea as well as the nuclear weapons that the North Korea possesses,” Becker concluded.
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