Otto Warmbier's girlfriend pays emotional tribute: 'He was my soul mate'

Otto Warmbier's girlfriend pays emotional tribute: 'He was my soul mate'”

Warmbier, a college student who had been part of a tour group visiting North Korea, was detained by the regime for 17 months, during which he was subject to a show trial and unknown cruelties before he was suddenly returned to the US last week - in a comatose state.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, died Monday, six days after he returned to his OH home in a coma after 17 months of detention in the North for taking down a political propaganda sign from a hotel.

Some 2,500 mourners attended a Thursday morning memorial at Wyoming High School in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming. Warmbier will be buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Wyoming officials say the service for Otto Warmbier in the Wyoming High School auditorium will be open to the public Thursday, but not to news media.

"We see a young man go over there healthy and with a minor act of mischief come home dead, basically", he said, referring to American student Otto Warmbier, who died Monday.

Warmbier's treatment was "appalling", U.S. Senator Rob Portman of OH told reporters outside the memorial.

"We both call for the immediate, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and on DPRK to halt its illegal nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missile tests", Tillerson said, adding that USA officials expect China to exert greater pressure on Pyongyang.

"They lure Americans, and then they take them hostage and then they do things to them, and that's what happened to my son", he added.

The University of Virginia student was arrested in North Korea in January 2016, on charges that he stole a propaganda poster from a staff-only level of the Pyongyang hotel where he stayed.

His language was echoed by South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who said in an interview ahead of a White House visit next week that North Korea bears responsibility for the student's death. Warmbier's doctors said he suffered extensive brain damage.

"China might be willing to make changes on the margins of its relationship with North Korea, but fundamental changes to its strategy are highly unlikely, because this would threaten the stability of Kim Jong-un's regime and potentially eliminate the North as a buffer state", Rand Corporation senior defense analyst Derek Grossman said. 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 way for me to know that for sure".

The service was held at the 22-year-old's school in OH, before his burial at a nearby cemetery.

"You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched -- Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two -- that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family", the statement said.

"Who did the North Korean government tell about this?"

US diplomatic and defense chiefs met their Chinese counterparts for security talks and pushed China to rein in companies that allegedly deal with its wayward ally North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions.

On June 13, North Korea released Warmbier in a comatose state.

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