American college student Otto Warmbier, who was released last week in a coma after 17 months in North Korea, died Monday afternoon.
Warmbier, who had originally been sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor after allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda banner in North Korea, passed away at 2:20 p.m. EDT at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
In a statement from the family, the North Korean government was accused of “torturous mistreatment” that eventually led to the 22-year-old’s death.
“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 statement read.
The University of Virginia student returned to the United States with severe brain damage after being medically evacuated by North Korea on “humanitarian grounds.”
Warmbier, who suffered a “severe neurological injury” of unknown cause according to doctors, was said to have fallen into a coma in March 2016 shortly after his sentencing. Doctors also noted a “profound weakness and contraction” of the muscles in his arms and legs and an inability to understood verbal commands.
North Korea has claimed that Warmbier went into a coma after taking a sleeping pill and contracting botulism, though U.S. doctors said they found no evidence of the illness.
President Donald Trump released a statement on Warmbier’s passing Monday in which he offered condolences to the grieving family.
“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing,” the president said. “There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.”
Trump also condemned North Korea over its refusal to respect both the rule of law and “basic human decency.”
“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,” Trump continued. “The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
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