Donald Trump has claimed that an American student who died after being held captive in North Korea was ‘tortured beyond belief’, despite a coroner’s report finding that Otto Warmbier, 22, had several small scars but was not tortured.
The Cincinnati Enquirer obtained a copy of the report, which said that Mr Warmbier’s injuries were not serious enough to indicate he had been tortured.
This evidence disputes the claims made by his parents, who told the Fox and Friends news programme that the North Koreans were ‘terrorists’ who had ‘systematically tortured’ their son.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier were speaking for the first time about what happened to their son.
The student from the University of Virginia died in a US hospital in June after suffering a serious neurological injury.
He had reportedly been in a coma after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in North Korea in March 2016 for stealing a hotel sign.
Mr Warmbier was released on medical grounds and returned to the US, but he arrived home in a seriously ill condition and died days later. North Korea denied mistreating him.
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However, his father said: ‘Otto was systematically tortured and intentionally injured by Kim [Jong-un] and his regime. This was no accident.’
He said when they saw his son he was ‘moving around, and jerking violently, making these howling and inhuman sounds’.
Mr Warmbier said Otto’s head was shaved, that he was blind and deaf and that his arms and legs were ‘totally deformed’. He also said he had a large scar on his foot.
He added it ‘looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth’.
He said: ‘They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him. They are not victims, they’re terrorists.’
North Korea had claimed it was the ‘biggest victim’ in the case. Its foreign ministry said in a statement: ‘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 US.’
Otto’s mother said: ‘We thought he was in a coma, but you couldn’t call it a coma. What we pictured, because we’re optimists, was that Otto would be asleep and maybe in a medically-induced coma. And then when our doctors here would work with him and he’d get the best care and love, that he would come out of it.’