A final tragedy for the Warmbier family and the nail in the coffin, twenty-two year old student Otto Warmbier passed away last night (June 19) at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center he was being treated in. Just a few days after he arrived on American soil since his captivity in North Korea back in January 2016, he died peacefully while still in a coma. The images that the world remembers of the student arriving home in a special aircraft, while being carried out in a comatose state, will be a stark reminder of the brutality of the Far East country under the fierce dictatorship of Kim Jong-un.
His parents released a somber statement in the wake of his death to the media, stating: “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.” The cause of his death has not yet been released to the public.
According to the updates sent by North Korean officials, Otto Warmbier lapsed into a coma in March 2016, shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour at one of North Korea’s most notorious prisons. Officials said that he had contracted botulism and went into a comatose state after consuming a sleeping pill. For over a year after that, his family was not given any information regarding their son’s medical state, and were only made aware a week prior to his release by North Korea on “humanitarian grounds”.
American medical experts have stated that Otto Warmbier showed no signs of contracting botulism, and that there was severe damage to his brain tissues. Though his eyes would open and he could blink, doctors said he showed no signs of understanding his surroundings and could not grasp what was being spoken to him. He also showed no signs of “purposeful movements or behaviors”. They also went so far as to suggest that he had undergone physical abuse at the hands of his captors which could have led to the deterioration of his health.
Otto Warmbier was arrested last year in January due to a video that showed him stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel he was staying at. He had gone on a trip to North Korea via a touring company. While the rest of his companions traveled back safely to the United States, he was arrested at the airport. His trial was swift, and as he was given his prison sentence, he broke down in tears, begging to be forgiven. His arrest was around the same time that the United States condemned the isolated Far East nation of their nuclear proliferation program and many suggest that his arrest was politically motivated.
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