Mourners gather for funeral of student detained in N Korea

Throngs of mourners paid their final respects to Otto Warmbier Thursday at a public funeral at the high school he attended near Cincinnati.

Hundreds of mourners gathered Thursday to celebrate the life of an American college student who was detained in North Korea for over a year and died shortly after being returned home to OH in a coma.

The spokesman said it was a "mystery" as to why Warmbier died days after returning home, but compared his death to the case of another American detainee, Evan Hunziker.

A handout for the funeral featured a photo of Warmbier posing next to his mother and included a quote from his salutatorian speech in 2013: "This is our season finale". The University of Virginia student was accused in January 2015 of trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting North Korea.

"When I was organizing the trip and I (met) with the delegates here, I addressed Otto Warmbier and I said to them we would need some type of good faith if we're ever going to do some type of future sports relations".

The attendees included Ambassador Joseph Yun, the U.S. special envoy who traveled to Pyongyang to bring Warmbier back, and U.S. Sen. "This is the end of one great show, but just the beginning to hundreds of new spin-offs". On campus and around the school, ribbons of blue and white - Wyoming High School's colors - adorned trees to honor Warmbier.

The North Koreans had told USA officials that Warmbier slipped in a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill.

Two months later, he was found guilty of committing "hostile acts" against the North Korean regime and sentenced to 15 years' hard labor in a trial that reportedly lasted about an hour. He died less than a week after returning from North Korea.

Fred Warmbier, the student's father, said the same thing Thursday: "Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto".




Rodman told ABC News he didn't know Warmbier was in a coma when he heard the news of his release.

US President Donald Trump's administration worked to secure his return.

His physicians said he suffered from unresponsive wakefulness, a condition also known as persistent vegetative state.

Ria Westergaard Pedersen, who was with Warmbier in North Korea, told the Danish broadcaster TV2 this week that he had been nervous when taking pictures of soldiers, and said she doubted North Korea's explanation for his arrest.

"This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where blood supply to the brain is inadequate for a period of time, resulting in the death of brain tissue", Dr. Daniel Kanter said last week.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who had met with North Korean officials in NY to press for Warmbier's release, attended the funeral.

"The smear campaign against (North Korea) staged in the USA compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law", the foreign ministry spokesman said in state media. Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated, declined to provide details, and Warmbier's family on Tuesday asked that the Hamilton County Coroner not perform an autopsy.

"There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son". The coroner's office reviewed medical records from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the air ambulance service that helped ferry Warmbier from Pyongyang to Cincinnati.

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