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JUSTICE: U.S. Marshals get ready to sell seized North Korean ship

PortandTerminal.com, July 29, 2019

Cruelty has consequences. Otto Warmbier’s family has filed a claim against the seized North Korean cargo ship America took last April. Now it looks as if they may win.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marshals Service is beginning the process to sell the Wise Honest, the North Korean bulker it seized in April 2019. Last week, a federal court authorized the vessel’s sale in order to satisfy a civil judgement against the government of North Korea. 

Fred and Cindy Warmbier successfully brought a case against North Korea for the death of their son. They were awarded a $500 million dollar judgement which they have yet to collect.

The court case

Otto Warmbier was arrested by North Korea on trumped-up charges for allegedly stealing a poster, was held in prison for a year, tortured and then released in a vegetative state. He died several days after his release.

The Warmbier family has reasonably requested that the cargo ship seizure could be used to pay off part of the family’s successful $500 million legal judgment against North Korea for the brutal torture and killing of their son Otto.

We are committed to holding North Korea accountable for the death of our son Otto, and will work tirelessly to seize North Korean assets wherever they may be found,”  the Warmbiers said in a statement.

The Honest is already in American custody: She was seized in Indonesia last year when Indonesian authorities caught her carrying 25,000 tonnes of North Korean coal, a violation of UN Security Council sanctions. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York then filed a warrant to seize her for the same violation, and in April, Indonesia transferred her to the U.S. Marshals Service, which brought her to American Samoa for safekeeping. North Korea described the action – ordered by independent federal prosecutors, not by the White House – as a “gangster-like,” “flagrant act of robbery” and demanded the vessel’s return.

Next steps

Last week, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service told VOA that the agency is now “in the process of developing a disposal plan, taking into consideration things such as age, condition, and location of the vessel.” Under the court order, the sale may proceed on an expedited basis in order to reduce the expense of the vessel’s maintenance. Any proceeds will then be disbursed when a final order of forfeiture is issued by the court. 

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