There was a lot of hope for Otto Warmbier – the university student who was detained in North Korea – when he was released from the country this week.
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Although he was in a coma and was medically evacuated from the country, it seemed like perhaps there was a chance for him to recover and rebuild his life. However, this has all changed, as yesterday Otto sadly passed away.
The 22-year-old’s death was confirmed in a family statement via the hospital he was staying in. It says:
It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2.20pm.
In case you had missed this story, Otto was sentenced to 15 years hard labour by the North Korean government last year, after trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel.
However, last week the country sent Otto back to the US, where it was revealed he had been in a coma since the day after he was sentenced. The family said:
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.
Doctors said he had suffered severe brain damage, although it wasn’t clear what caused it. Now North Korea has come under fire for its treatment of prisoners, with Republican Senator Rob Portman saying North Korea should be, “universally condemned for its abhorrent behaviour.” Damn straight.
The key thing now is for an autopsy to be performed in detail, because there has almost definitely been some foul play. It’s tragic that Otto lost his life and at such a young age, but if it means that this incident could lead to the release of other detainees then at least something good would come of it. RIP to Otto and thoughts go out to his friends and family.
To see what it’s really like inside a North Korean labour camp, click HERE.