Wednesday 18 October 2017

Hundreds attend funeral of US student jailed in North Korea

The casket of Otto Warmbier is carried to the hearse, followed by his family and friends, after the funeral service. Photo: Reuters
The casket of Otto Warmbier is carried to the hearse, followed by his family and friends, after the funeral service. Photo: Reuters

Dake Kang

Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday to celebrate the life of an American college student who was detained in North Korea for more than a year and died shortly after being returned home to Ohio in a coma.

Otto Warmbier's brother, sister and friends were among mourners for the funeral yesterday at a high school in his hometown of Wyoming, near Cincinnati. A rabbi officiated at the public service.

Republican senator Rob Portman told reporters Mr Warmbier was "an amazing young man" from a resilient family and that North Korea must be held accountable for what happened to the 22-year-old University of Virginia student, who died on Monday.

He was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting North Korea in 2015 and was later convicted of subversion. His family said they were told he had been in a coma since shortly after he was sentenced to prison with hard labour in March 2016.

After he returned to Ohio, doctors determined he had suffered a "severe neurological injury" of unknown cause. Yesterday's funeral was held against a backdrop of increased tensions between the US and North Korea, whose top diplomat to India suggested yesterday the possibility of freezing nuclear tests in an apparent bid to hold talks with the US, as Washington resumes efforts to get China to put more pressure on Pyongyang.

Irish Independent

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