The 22-year-old American student who was released in a comatose state by North Korea on June 13 died at a hospital in Cincinnati, United States, on Monday. He had been detained for 17 months. “Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today,” Otto Warmbier’s parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement after their son’s death.
In March 2016, North Korea had sentenced Otto Warmbier to 15 years of hard labour for stealing a propaganda sign from a hotel. The University of Virginia student was convicted of “subversive activities” by the country’s Supreme Court. The US had appealed for his release saying he would not have faced the same charges for the offence anywhere else in the world.
US President Donald Trump called Warmbier the “latest victim” of Pyongyang’s dictatorship, saying “the United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime”. “Otto’s fate deepens my administrations determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do no respect the rule of law or basic human decency,” Trump said.
After months of detention, Warmbier was flown to his home state Ohio from North Korea on June 13. The Kim Jong-un regime had announced that they were releasing the 22-year-old for “humanitarian” reasons. Doctors at a hospital in Ohio had declared him comatose soon after his arrival. They had concluded that Warmbier had likely suffered a massive trauma to the head while he was detained in North Korea, according to The Washington Times.