North Korea dismisses US President Donald Trump as an ‘old lunatic’ seeking to exploit death of Otto Warmbier
Warmbier, who had been imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, died from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain, an Ohio coroner said on Wednesday
North Korea has accused US President Donald Trump of exploiting the death of American student Otto Warmbier, referring to the US president as an “old lunatic” for alleging the 22-year-old was tortured while in Pyongyang’s custody.
In a statement issued by the state-run KCNA news agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry accused the US of “luring and pushing” Warmbier, who died days after being released from North Korea in a coma, into breaking the country’s laws.
“Trump and his clique, for their anti-DPRK propaganda, are again exploiting the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who had been under reform through labour for the criminal act he committed against the DPRK and died after returning to the US,” it said, using the acronym for the North’s official name.
“The fact that the old lunatic Trump and his riff-raff slandered the sacred dignity of our supreme leadership, using bogus data full of falsehood and fabrications, only serves to redouble the surging hatred of our army and people towards the US and their will to retaliate thousand-fold.”
Warmbier, who had been imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, died from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain, an Ohio coroner said on Wednesday. His death on June 19 was due to an unknown injury that occurred more than a year before his death, Hamilton County Coroner Dr Lakshmi Sammarco said at a news conference.
“We don’t know what happened to him and that’s the bottom line,” Sammarco said.
Warmbier’s parents could not be reached for comment on the coroner’s report.
The University of Virginia student was held by North Korea from January 2016 until his release on June 15.
The coroner and a September 11 report by her office cited complications of chronic deficiency of oxygen and blood supply to the brain in Warmbier’s death. Only an external examination of the body rather than a full autopsy was conducted at the request of Warmbier’s family.
North Korea previously blamed botulism and the ingestion of a sleeping pill for Otto Warmbier’s problems and dismissed torture claims.
The native of Wyoming, Ohio, had been arrested at the airport in Pyongyang as he prepared to leave the reclusive communist country. He had been travelling with a tour group.
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for trying to take from his hotel an item bearing a propaganda slogan, North Korea’s state media reported.
Saying his son had been tortured, Fred Warmbier told Fox News in an interview on Tuesday, “As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
“Great interview on @foxandfriends with the parents of Otto Warmbier: 1994 – 2017. Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea,” President Donald Trump said on Twitter following the interview’s broadcast.
In response to a question at the news conference, the coroner said there was no evidence of trauma to Warmbier’s teeth nor was there evidence of broken bones.
The coroner’s report said that Warmbier’s body had multiple scars varying in size, including a large irregular one measuring 10cm by 4cm on the right foot.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse