News President Trump

Sunday 25 February 2018

Trump decries 'brutal' North Korea as student dies

US President Donald Trump said the North Korean regime has no respect for ‘the rule of law or basic human decency’ and said Mr Warmbier’s death has deepened his administration’s resolve
US President Donald Trump said the North Korean regime has no respect for ‘the rule of law or basic human decency’ and said Mr Warmbier’s death has deepened his administration’s resolve
American student Otto Warmbier, pictured being escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: AP

Neil Connor Beijing

The coroner's office in Cincinnati is investigating the death of the American college student who died less than a week after his return from North Korea, where he was detained for nearly a year-and-a-half.

A spokesman for the Hamilton County coroner said Dr Lakshmi Sammaraco's office has accepted the case of Otto Warmbier, who died on Monday in a Cincinnati hospital.

US President Donald Trump has called North Korea a "brutal regime" after the death of the student who had been jailed there for more than 15 months.

North Korea returned Mr Warmbier (22) to the US last week, saying he had been in a coma for a year and that it was acting on humanitarian grounds.

His parents said he had been subjected to "awful, torturous mistreatment".

Mr Warmbier, who was jailed for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel, did not regain consciousness.

Mr Trump said that a "lot of bad things happened" to Mr Warmbier, but added: "At least we got him home to be with his parents, where they were so happy to see him, even though he was in a very tough condition."

Mr Trump said Mr Warmbier's death had deepened his administration's resolve "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."

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in told CBS News it was "quite clear" that North Korea had "a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr Warmbier's death".

Mr Warmbier's parents, from Ohio, did not cite a specific cause of death, but cited "awful, torturous mistreatment" by North Korea. Doctors had described Mr Warmbier's condition as a state of "unresponsive wakefulness" and said he suffered a "severe neurological injury" of unknown cause.

A tour agency that took Mr Warmbier into North Korea before he was detained for 18 months has said it will stop taking Americans into the reclusive state.

Young Pioneer Tours, an agency operated largely by expats in the north Chinese city of Xi'an, had previously described North Korea as "probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit".

However, it said in a statement on its website yesterday that Mr Warmbier's death had "led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists".

"There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality and we have been struggling to process the result," the statement continued.

"Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high."

The death came amid growing tension between Washington and Pyongyang.

Mr Trump's administration has appeared confrontational towards North Korea, and has declared an end to a period of "strategic patience" from Washington.

However, Kim Jong-un's regime has carried out a series of provocative missile tests.

Last week Mr Warmbier's family said they had been told their son was given a sleeping pill following his trial in March 2016 and had never woken up.

Fred Warmbier, Otto's father, also heavily criticised Young Pioneer Tours, accusing it of "luring young Americans" for the North Koreans. It remains unclear what caused the University of Virginia student's severe health problems when he was in North Korea.

But John McCain, a Republican senator, accused North Korea of murdering and torturing Mr Warmbier in a Twitter post.

Irish Independent

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