Chicago (AFP) – Otto Warmbier, the US student released in a coma last week after nearly 18 months in detention in North Korea, died on Monday, prompting President Donald Trump to slam the “brutal regime” in Pyongyang.
The 22-year-old was medically evacuated to the United States last Tuesday, suffering from severe brain damage. He died six days later surrounded by relatives in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
“The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible,” the family said in a statement announcing Warmbier’s death.
The young man was on a tourist trip when he was arrested and sentenced in March last year to 15 years hard labor for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, a punishment the United States decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime.
Trump lashed out at Pyongyang following news of his death.
“It’s a brutal regime,” he said during a White House event. “Bad things happened but at least we got him home to his parents.”
In a separate written statement, Trump said, “Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”
“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
Added Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.”
– ‘At peace’ –
Doctors last week revealed that Warmbier had suffered severe neurological injuries, and described him as being in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness,” opening his eyes and blinking, but showing no signs of understanding language or of being aware of his surroundings.
His family said Monday that he first appeared anguished when he first arrived home, but died “at peace.”
Kim Jong-Un’s regime…