SEOUL – North Korea Friday denied torturing or mistreating Otto Warmbier, the US student who died after being released from the North in a coma, in the first official reaction to his death.
South Korea has said the North bore responsibility for Warmbier’s fate and US President Donald Trump has slammed his detention and eventual death as “a total disgrace”.
“Our relevant agencies treat all criminals… thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and international standards and Warmbier was not an exception,” a spokesman for the National Reconciliation Council said.
He blasted South Korea, accusing it of seeking to exploit Warmbier’s death to press its own demand for the release of six South Korean detainees.
“Those who have absolutely no idea about how well we treated Warmbier under humanitarian conditions dare to utter ‘mistreatment’ and ‘torture’,” he said according to the official KCNA news agency.
Warmbier was buried Thursday in Ohio, less than a week after he was sent back home in a mysterious coma.
He had been incarcerated for more than a year in North Korea after allegedly stealing a political slogan while on a trip to the capital Pyongyang as a tourist.