Otto Warmbier: tortured to death or tragic accident?

Otto Warmbier
Otto Warmbier's parents open up about son's torture by North Korea: 'They are terrorists'

29 September, 2017

North Korea's accusations follows a coroner report in which the American student was found to have died from a lack of oxygen to his brain - though the exact cause of his death was hard to pin down.

New details have emerged surrounding the mysterious death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student from OH who was imprisoned and reportedly abused in North Korea.

But a coroner disputed claims by Warmbier's parents that his teeth were damaged, and said her office's examination indicated he had been well tended in the year since something - they can not say what - starved his brain of oxygen and eventually killed him.

The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the finding.

Otto Warmbier died on June 19, just six days after he was evacuated from North Korea, where he had been arrested for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster in January 2016.

Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. Doctors there said he arrived in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness" and had suffered a "severe neurological injury" of uncertain cause. "They're terrorists. They kidnapped Otto".

In the statement, the North accused "an anti-DPRK conspiracy organisation in the US" of sending Warmbier to the country on a criminal "mission".

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While the nature of Warmbier's death remains unclear, President Donald Trump has, on several occasions, mentioned the young man's passing as an example of North Korea's brutality. However, the coroner's office found a scar that "we really couldn't explain through medical instrumentation", Sammarco said. Otto's body was described as "well-developed, well-nourished" and his teeth were reportedly in good condition.

Fred said his son was blind and deaf.

Fred Warmbier said Tuesday that his son "was jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds", when he was returned, but Sammarco said his condition was likely caused by "chronic brain damage". Only an external examination of the body rather than a full autopsy was completed at the request of Warmbier's family.

Fred Warmbier told Fox, "It looked like somebody had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth".

In a separate interview this week on CNN, the parents said Otto Warmbier also had "totally deformed" hands and legs and a large scar along his right foot.

"I felt very comfortable that there wasn't any evidence of trauma [to the teeth or jawbone]", she said. His healthy skin and body weight suggest he had "round the clock care" in North Korea - even while in a coma, Sammarco said.

Sammarco said she agreed with UC Health system doctors who treated Warmbier and said they found no evidence of botulism.

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