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No obvious signs of torture on American held by North Korea: coroner

Otto Warmbier.JPG
Otto Warmbier, the American student who died days after being released from North Korea in a coma, displayed no obvious signs of torture, an Ohio medical examiner said on Wednesday.

[CHICAGO] Otto Warmbier, the American student who died days after being released from North Korea in a coma, displayed no obvious signs of torture, an Ohio medical examiner said on Wednesday.

The coroner said the 22-year-old, who had been sentenced to 15 years hard labor while visiting the reclusive country, had suffered "brain damage caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain." Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco could not say what caused the injury.

The revelations came a day after both Warmbier's parents and President Donald Trump accused the reclusive regime of torturing the young man, who had been convicted of trying to steal a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel.

Warmbier's parents, in a series of TV interviews on Tuesday, said their son displayed physical signs of torture, including teeth that appeared to have been "rearranged," and hands and feet that were disfigured.

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"They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him. They are not victims, they are terrorists," Fred Warmbier said on the programme Fox and Friends.

After the airing of the interview, President Donald Trump for the first time accused North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime of torturing the young man.

But Ms Sammarco, who examined Warmbier's body after his death in June, said there was no clear evidence of physical torture - including no recently broken bones or damaged teeth.

"We don't know what happened to him. That's the bottom line," she said. "We're never going to know, unless the people who were there come forward and say, 'This is what happened to Otto.'"

Warmbier's body displayed only a few small scars, all but one of which could be traced to medical instruments, she said, adding that the Warmbiers' TV interviews had prompted her to publicly reveal her findings.

"They're grieving parents. I can't really make comments on their perceptions," she added.

AFP