North Korea denies torturing, cruelly treating detained US student Otto Warmbier | world-news | Hindustan Times
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North Korea denies torturing, cruelly treating detained US student Otto Warmbier

Warmbier had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause. Relatives say they were told the 22-year-old was in coma since shortly after he was sentenced to prison in North Korea in March 2016.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2017 20:05 IST
A mourner signs a guest book in Wyoming, Ohio, during the funeral for Otto Warmbier.
A mourner signs a guest book in Wyoming, Ohio, during the funeral for Otto Warmbier.(AFP)

North Korea on Friday denied it cruelly treated or tortured an American student who was detained for more than year and died days after being released in a coma.

The article published by the official Korean Central News Agency was Pyongyang’s first reaction to Otto Warmbier’s death in a US hospital on Monday after North Korea released him for what it said was humanitarian reasons.

Doctors there said Warmbier had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause. 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.

His family and others have blamed North Korea for his condition.

American student Otto Warmbier escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, after his detention. (AP File Photo)

He was serving a sentence of hard labour after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster. KCNA said the North dealt with Warmbier according to domestic law and international standards.

The article also criticised South Korea for using Warmbier’s case to seek the release of other detainees, including six South Korean nationals. Three Americans also remain in custody in the North.

Timeline of events leading to the death of Otto Warmbier. (AFP)

“Our related institutions are treating criminals who committed crimes against (our) republic strictly based on domestic law and international standards, and Warmbier was no different,” the KCNA said.

The agency accused Seoul of tarnishing Pyongyang’s image with its “slanderous talk about cruel treatment and torture” while having no knowledge of the “humanitarian” treatment Warmbier received in the North. The agency didn’t provide further details on how Warmbier was treated under detention or what might have caused him to lapse into a coma.

The United States, South Korea and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to wrest diplomatic concessions.