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North Korea denies torturing deceased US student Otto Warmbier

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-06-2017 Kanga Kong

Seoul: North Korea denied any cruel treatment or use of torture on a US student who died in Ohio after spending more than a year imprisoned in the reclusive Stalinist nation.

North Korea treated Otto Warmbier like any other convict in strict accordance with domestic laws and internationals standards, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday. US President Donald Trump on Monday denounced the death of 22-year-old, saying he suffered at the hands of a “brutal regime”.

“Those who are utterly ignorant of how we treated Warmbier from a humanitarian standpoint are spouting such rubbish as ‘brutal acts’ and ‘tortures’,” KCNA said, citing a spokesman of the consultative council for national reconciliation. He blamed the reports on “pro-US servants keen on tarnishing the image of the DPRK and currying favour with their master US,” using the initials of North Korea’s formal name.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March 2016 for trying to steal a political banner, and was in a coma when he was medically evacuated to his home state last week. He passed away on Monday.

Trump later said on Twitter that China had failed to rein in North Korea, a comment that suggested he was weighing new options to deal with a regime that’s vowed to develop nuclear weapons capable of striking the US mainland. China hit back, saying that it’s efforts on North Korea have been “indispensable”.

A meeting between top US-China diplomats and defence chiefs on Wednesday appeared to reduce tensions. Defense secretary Jim Mattis said that China shared the same goal of eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, while state councillor Yang Jiechi told Trump that China was willing to coordinate with the US in dealing with North Korea. Bloomberg

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