Mourners gather for funeral of student detained in North Korea

Henrietta Brewer
June 23, 2017

Referring specifically to the case of Otto Warmbier - a 22-year-old American college student who died Monday after being released from North Korean captivity in a vegetative state - Mattis said, "there's no way that we can look at a situation like this with any kind of understanding".

"North Korea needs to be held accountable for what happened to Otto Warmbier", Portman says.

Trump had been relying on Chinese President Xi Jinping for assistance influencing the North Korean regime.

In Warmbier's home state of OH, the mourners - among them friends and family - attended his funeral at his former high school.

Trump, who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail, has turned to Beijing to help pressure its ally North Korea, prompting concern among Asian partners that America might go easy on Beijing over its expansive claims in the disputed South China Sea. He was arrested for allegedly stealing a political sign from a restricted area and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

A hearse carried Warmbier's casket from the school to a burial service at a local cemetery.

After graduating as class salutatorian in 2013, Warmbier enrolled at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he was studying at the school of commerce.

Wyoming officials say the celebration of life for Otto Warmbier will be Thursday morning in the Wyoming High School auditorium.

Sentenced to hard labor for stealing a political poster from a North Korean hotel, the 22-year-old Warmbier was medically evacuated in a coma last week after almost 18 months in captivity.

The North Korean spokesman quoted by Reuters suggested the student had returned to the USA "in his normal state of health".

A spokesman the country's foreign ministry said the DPRK gave Warmbier all available medical treatment and care on a humanitarian basis until his return to the United States, and that Warmbier was not mistreated or tortured during his 18-month detention in DPRK. He died six days later.

The spokesman also blamed the Obama administration for failing to act sooner to help Warmbier, saying the 22-year-old University of Virginia undergrad was "a victim of the policy of strategic patience".

President Donald Trump did not attend the funeral, but has blasted Warmbier's death as "a total disgrace".

After global outrage and over a year of imprisonment, North Korea released Warmbier last week, saying his health had deteriorated after a bout of botulism.

"He never should have been detained in the first place", Portman said yesterday.

Warmbier's cause of death hasn't been determined. Upon his return to the United States, however, doctors said they found no evidence of botulism.

Other reports by iNewsToday