The coroner that examined the body of a young man released from North Korea after a year in detention found no definitive signs of torture.
Exactly what happened to Otto Warmbier in North Korea remains a mystery. The University of Virginia student was arrested last year for allegedly pilfering a propaganda poster, and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Warmbier returned home in a coma and passed away one week later after a year in captivity in North Korea.
North Korea claims that Warmbier developed botulism, a rare form of food poisoning, and slipped into a coma after taking a sleeping pill, but medical personnel found no evidence to support the regime’s claims. Doctors also did not detect any evidence of physical abuse or trauma, such as unusual scars or bone fractures, suggesting that the North, reasonably consistent with their claims, may not have tortured the boy.
“Although we had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state, we provided him with medical treatments and care with all sincerity on a humanitarian basis until his return to the U.S.,” the North argued after Warmbier’s death.
U.S. intelligence, however, reportedly indicated that Warmbier was abused, according to the New York Times.
The parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, asserted Tuesday in a Fox & Friends interview that North Korea brutally tortured their son, calling the North a terrorist state.
The Warmbiers claim that when Otto returned home, they saw him jerking violently on the plane and screaming. “He was blind, he was deaf,” the father said, adding that it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and “rearranged his bottom teeth.”
“They destroyed him,” the mother said.
When Otto first returned home, his father said that he was “brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime.”
The findings of the Hamilton County coroner that examined “well-developed, well-nourished” Warmbier were inconsistent with the assertions of the boy’s parents, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “The teeth are natural and in good repair,” the relevant report revealed, and his nose and ears showed “no remarkable alteration.” He had several small scars and bruises, but there was no indication they occurred during his time in prison or as a result of mistreatment. The report suggested that some of the marks appeared to be from medical treatment.
The report concluded that the cause of death was brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, the result of “an unknown insult more than a year prior to death.” As the Warmbiers declined an autopsy, the coroner’s investigation was ultimately limited in its findings.
The manner of death was “undetermined.”
WATCH THE INITIAL STATEMENT AFTER OTTO WARMBIER’S RELEASE FROM NORTH KOREA:
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