Chicago (AFP) – President Donald Trump slammed the “brutal regime” in Pyongyang following the death of Otto Warmbier, the US student released in a coma last week after nearly 18 months in detention in North Korea.
The 22-year-old was medically evacuated to the United States last Tuesday, suffering from severe brain damage. He died six days later surrounded by relatives in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
“The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible,” the family said in a statement Monday announcing Warmbier’s death.
Warmbier was on a tourist trip when he was arrested and sentenced in March last year to 15 years hard labor for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, a punishment US officials decried as out of proportion to his alleged crime.
Trump condemned Pyongyang following news of his death.
“It’s a brutal regime,” he said during a White House event. “Bad things happened but at least we got him home to his parents.”
He then added with no explanation: “We’ll be able to handle it.”
In a separate written statement, Trump said, “Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”
“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
Added Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:”We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.”
Ex-Vietnam war POW Senator John McCain said in a statement that Warmbier “was murdered by the Kim Jong-Un regime,” and added that the United States “cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”
On Twitter, Republican Senator Marco Rubio wrote that Warmbier “should never have been in jail for tearing down a stupid banner. And…