U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday blasted the North Korean regime, following the death of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was returned to the United States in a coma last week after being imprisoned in North Korea for more than 17 months.
“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing. There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him,” Trump wrote in a statement.
“Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency. The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” he added.
Earlier, speaking during a White House meeting with technology CEOs, Trump spoke of Warmbier’s death, saying, “Lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents.”
“It’s a brutal regime, and we’ll be able to handle it,” he stressed.
Vice President Mike Pence reacted to Warmbier’s death as well, also criticizing the North Korean regime.
“Karen I are so saddened to hear this. We’re praying for Otto’s family tonight. A tragic example of North Korea’s disregard for human life,” he tweeted.
The University of Virginia student was arrested by North Korean officials last year and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, after he was charged with trying to take a propaganda banner from an area reserved for North Korean staff and forbidden to foreigners at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, where he was staying as part of a New Year’s tour group.
He was released and returned to the U.S. last week reportedly after diplomatic action involving high-level officials in the government.
Warmbier died at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, near where he grew up in suburban Wyoming.
Warmbier’s family said in a statement that “the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans” meant that “no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.”
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