Trump Calls Warmbier's Death A 'total disgrace'

Mandy Carr
June 21, 2017

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office is investigating the death of the student who died less than a week after his return from North Korea, where he was detained near a year and a half.

Earlier in the day, the coroner's office said it had received Warmbier's body for an autopsy examination and was expecting to release preliminary findings later on Tuesday or on Wednesday. Doctors said he returned with severe brain damage, but it wasn't clear how that occurred.

"It should never, ever be allowed to happen".

The White House said we're further away from the two sides talking following Warmbier's death.

His death also brought attention to North Korea's human rights record.

Republican senator Rob Portman, who is from Cincinnati, said North Korea should be "universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour".

Warmbier was visiting North Korea with a tour group in January 2016 when he was detained over what Pyongyang said was an attempt to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan. He wept at his sentencing, saying: "I have made the worst mistake of my life". Within weeks, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and hard labor. His family said on Monday he appeared anguished when he first arrived home, but died "at peace".

Unresponsive wakefulness is a new medical term for persistent vegetative state. Patients in this condition can open their eyes but do not respond to commands.

North Korean officials have said that Warmbier went into a coma not long after his incarceration, when he took a sleeping bill after a bout of botulism, a rare and potentially fatal form of food poisoning.

They said that given his young age, Warmbier's severe brain injury was most likely caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain.

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"President Moon Jae-in expressed regrets after hearing the news of [Otto] Warmbier's death", presidential office spokesman Park Soo-hyun told reporters in comments carried by Yonhap News Agency.

Otto's father, Fred Warmbier, thanked Trump for his role in seeking Otto's release, implying that former President Barack Obama's administration had not been aggressive enough in seeking freedom for his son.

President Trump similarly asserted this week that "the results would have been different" had Warmbier been brought home sooner.

Warmbier grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming.

The popular honors student was a homecoming and prom king who played on his high school's soccer and swim teams. Yun then was dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier June 12 with two doctors and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.

Weeks before Warmbier took his trip, the travel company's response to that question began (according to a Web archive), "Extremely safe!"

The State Department strongly recommends Americans not travel to North Korea. While almost all Americans who have been there have left without incident, visitors can be seized and face lengthy incarceration for what might seem like minor infractions.

Separately, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called for the passage of a bill he had introduced with Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., that would ban USA tourist travel to the country.

"Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime", he said.

Three other Americans are still imprisoned in North Korea, accused of crimes against the Pyongyang regime. They said they wanted to cut off a source of foreign currency to Kim Jong Un's government and prevent it from detaining more US citizens.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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