A public funeral has been planned for American student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released from North Korea.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, had been held in North Korea for 17 months after he was accused of attempting to steal a propaganda banner while he was visiting the country with a tour group. Otto was convicted of subversion, and in March 2016 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Warmbier was returned to his home in Wyoming, Ohio on June 13. When he arrived, he was in a coma, which North Korea said was due to him contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill. However, the doctors in Cincinnati said they found no signs of botulism. Otto passed away shortly after his return home.
According to Cincinatti.com, Warmbier’s family requested no autopsy be performed on their son, and only permitted the coroner’s office to perform an “external examination.” Although no official cause of death has been revealed, Otto’s family blame the “awful, torturous mistreatment” he was subjected to by the people of North Korea. Before his death, the doctors said he had suffered an extensive loss of brain tissue from a “severe neurological injury” and “profound weakness and contraction” of his muscles, arms and legs. Although he opened and closed his eyes, the doctors said there were no signs that he understood what was going on in his surroundings.
“No conclusions about the cause and manner of Mr. Warmbier’s death have been drawn at this time as there are additional medical records and imaging to review and people to interview,” a statement from the coroner’s office read. “Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Mr. Warmbier at this time of their tragic loss.”
A funeral for Otto will be held on Thursday at 9 a.m. at his former high school Wyoming High School, located at 106 Pendery Ave. The funeral will be open to the public.
“All those that wish to join his family in celebrating his life are cordially invited,” a release regarding the funeral details read.
Warmbier had planned to study in China during his third year of college and had heard about travel companies offering trips to North Korea. It was when he was leaving the country on Jan. 2, 2016 that he was detained by law enforcement. Three Americans are still currently being held in North Korea.
[Featured Image by Kim Kwang Hyon/AP Images]