The family of 22-year-old Ohio student Otto Warmbier has refused the option of an autopsy for their son following his death on Monday, after his 17-month detention in North Korea, The Guardian and other news outlets report.
Warmbier was released from North Korea earlier this month in a coma, with parts of his brain tissue missing. The college student had been arrested by the rogue state in 2016 for allegedly attempting to steal a poster from a hotel room in Pyongyang. The regime sentenced him to 15 years’ hard labour in a North Korean prison camp. Doctors in the US are yet to determine what caused his brain damage.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the family, including Otto’s parents Fred and Cindy, had declined the autopsy, which may have shed more light on what had caused Warmbier’s deterioration. Instead, doctors are performing an external examination, reviewing radiography and awaiting additional medical records, an Ohio coroner has said.
Following their son’s death on Monday, Fred and Cindy Warmbier released a statement saying they believed their son had suffered terribly at the hands of the North Koreans:
“When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13 he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that,” the statement read.
"Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.”
Warmbier’s death has prompted the US to scramble fighter jets in the skies above North Korea as a show of force.
The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, South Korean officials said.
US officials said they’d conducted drills with South Korean and Japanese military as a display of unity against Kim Jong-Un’s hermit state which regularly threatens its neighbours with nuclear attack.