Otto Warmbier's death 'is a mystery to us,' North Korea says

Otto Warmbier's death 'is a mystery to us,' North Korea says

Otto Warmbier's death 'is a mystery to us,' North Korea says

The funeral service began at 9 a.m. ET at Wyoming High School in Wyoming, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, where Warmbier was the salutatorian of his 2013 graduating class.

So many showed up that officials had to turn about a hundred people away once roughly 2,000 had filled an auditorium, cafeteria and gym for the service. He will be buried later in the day at a local cemetery.

US President Donald Trump has slammed the incarceration and eventual death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier as "a total disgrace". Relatives say they were told the 22-year-old University of Virginia student had been in a coma since shortly after he was sentenced to prison in North Korea in March 2016. He was then rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

"The barbaric treatment of Otto Warmbier by the North Korean regime amounts to the murder of a USA citizen".

He was sentenced two months later to 15 years of hard labour for trying to steal an item bearing a propaganda slogan from his hotel, North Korea state media said.

Rabbi Jake Rubin, who took Warmbier on a birthright trip to Israel with his fraternity brothers, called Warmbier "one of the most intellectually curious people I've ever met" in a speech.

One of his former school counselors, who was attending the funeral, told CNN the community had been holding its collective breath while he was imprisoned in North Korea, "praying for a quick release, rallying around the Warmbiers as much as possible".

He was sent home last week suffering from brain damage and in what USA doctors called a state of unresponsive wakefulness. Doctors in Cincinnati said they found no active sign of botulism or evidence of beatings.

He said he has "high expectations" for the upcoming summit with Mr Trump next week and said the priority the two leaders have placed on North Korea has raised the possibility the nuclear issue will be resolved.

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According to Dr. Jordan Bonomo, Warmbier had "no fractures to the bone and has minor blemishes on his skin".

As pallbearers carried Warmbier's casket out to the hearse, people outside the school stood in silence.

Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department's East Asia Bureau, said Washington had repeatedly requested the release of Warmbier under the Obama administration.

"It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home". He died on Monday.

His family blamed the "awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans".

"I think the results speak for themselves", he replied, adding that they made a decision to speak out because they were frustrated by the situation.

"The family's objection to an autopsy was honored and only an external examination was performed", the coroner's office said in a statement Tuesday night.

The comments published by KCNA were North Korea's first reaction to Otto Warmbier's death in a USA hospital Monday after it released him for what it called humanitarian reasons.

The US doctors had also said that Warmbier's severe brain injury was most likely - given his young age - to have been caused by cardiopulmonary arrest cutting the blood supply to the brain.

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