N.J. congressman pulls Kim Jong Un resolution after request from Otto Warmbier family

by Kim Boateng Posted on March 5th, 2019

Washington: Rep. Tom Malinowksi, D-N.J., won’t introduce a resolution that would hold North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier after a request from the Warmbier family.

The New Jersey congressman had planned to introduce the resolution this week but decided against it after speaking with the family, said spokeswoman Amanda Osborne.

“Ultimately, the family decided they did not want the resolution to move forward, and the Congressman wants to respect their wishes,” Osborne said.

Malinowski proposed the resolution to rebuke President Donald Trump, who said after his summit with Kim that he doesn’t hold the North Korean leader responsible for the Ohio college student’s death.

Osborne didn’t say why the family wanted the resolution pulled but did say Malinowski has no intentions of amending or re-introducing any similar legislation.

A call to Warmbier’s father, Fred Warmbier, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The Warmbiers released a statement Friday morning holding the North Korean leader responsible.

“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said. “No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

Trump later claimed in a series of tweets he was being “misinterpreted.”

“I got Otto out, along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death. Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!”

Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, went to North Korea on a tourist vacation in late 2015 and was about to return in the first days of 2016 when he was arrested and charged with stealing a poster from a Pyongyang hotel. After a show trial, a North Korean court sentenced Warmbier to 15 years hard labor.

Immediately after the sentencing, however, no further word was heard from Warmbier. His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier pushed the Obama administration to win his release, but all efforts failed. When Trump took office, he sent an envoy to North Korea to bring Warmbier home. The Kim government released him as a humanitarian gesture.

Warmbier returned to Cincinnati in a state doctors diagnosed as “unresponsive wakefulness” that left him blind, paralyzed, bedridden and unable to communicate. Tests showed his brain had been starved of oxygen. He died six days after his return to Cincinnati at 22.

In December, Warmbier’s parents won a $501 million judgment against the North Korean government for their son’s wrongful death by torture. At Thursday’s news conference, Trump said nothing about any U.S. efforts to help the family collect on the judgment. Instead he simply called them “an incredible family.”

Image: In this March 16, 2016, file photo, American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. The death last week of American student Warmbier, who fell into a coma after being arrested in North Korea, has raised questions about whether his tour agency was adequately prepared for its trips into the hard-line communist state. The Young Pioneer Tours agency built up a business attracting young travelers with cut-rate, hard-partying adventures into one of the world’s most isolated countries.

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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