Science

Otto Warmbier Cause of Death: North Korea Detainee Will Not Have Autopsy

Otto Warmbier Cause of Death: North Korea Detainee Will Not Have Autopsy

CINCINNATI (AP) - A cause of death hasn't been determined for a 22-year-old college student who was detained for almost a year and a half in North Korea before being sent home in a coma, an OH coroner's office said Tuesday. His family said it was told he had been in a coma since soon after his sentencing.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo). Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Wyoming High School in Cinci.

The U.S. Department of State warns against travel to North Korea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday that the USA holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment" and demanded the release of three other US captives. He was leaving the country on January 2 previous year when he was detained at the airport.

The company is based in Xi'an, China, but also has offices in Almaty, Khazakstan, in central Asia, Dakar, Senegal, in west Africa, Havana and, for North Korea tours, a bar and tourism office called The DMZ Bar in Yangshuo, China, that specializes in trips to North Korea. But some analysts believe negotiations could happen because of USA worries about the safety of the three other Americans still detained in North Korea.

The news comes after Don Jasper, chief investigator at the Hamilton County Coroner's office in Cincinnati, told Reuters that Warmbier's body was transferred there later that same day and that Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, the coroner, would share preliminary findings on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. The tours offer themes ranging from politics to biking along the DMZ demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to scuba diving.

The funeral will be held at 9 a.m.at Wyoming High School, where Warmbier was an athlete and salutatorian of his 2013 class.




The State Department "strongly warns" United States citizens not to travel to North Korea, explaining it has no diplomatic relations with the country, that 16 USA citizens have been detained there in the last 10 years and that even if the government allows a traveler to bring in a cell phone, he or she will have to use a North Korean carrier, which will allow the government to monitor calls.

Warmbier, an OH native, was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 while visiting as a tourist. They say he had severe brain damage but they don't know what caused it. They did not cite a specific cause of death.

But North Korea has also consistently lobbied Washington for specific concessions that would need deep negotiations, something recent USA administrations have been reluctant to pursue because of the North's weapons programs. It says his family objected to an autopsy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been unable to pursue the engagement with the North he favors because of a string of North Korean missile tests.

In a White House meeting with visiting Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Trump criticized the way Warmbier's case was handled in the year since his arrest, appearing to assail both North Korea and his predecessor, U.S. President Barack Obama. It said the flights demonstrated solidarity among South Korea, Japan and the United States "to defend against provocative and destabilizing actions in the Pacific theater".

Trump said he had spoken with Warmbier's family and praised them as "incredible". The country may not worry about much of anything externally, even the death of a young tourist, until it reaches its goal of building a nuclear ICBM that can ease what it sees as decades of USA and South Korean hostility. "And frankly if he were brought home sooner I think the result would have been a lot different".

Now I hope the American government will help, etc., etc. A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had limited options to rein in North Korea without Chinese assistance. North Korean officials said he became comatose after he was given a sleeping pill following a botulism diagnosis.


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