Otto Warmbier, the US student who was arrested for more than 15 months, died a week after returning to the US from North Korea where on January 2016 he was accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel and at Pyongyang International Airport. He was sent home last Tuesday. Otto had traveled from Beijing to Pyongyang with a tour group in December 2015.

What was the cause of Otto’s illness?

The boy was in a coma for a year, apparently after contracting botulism. However, his family claims that he was exposed to “appalling tortuous abuse.” According to BBC, North Korea says that he was sent home on humanitarian grounds.

Botulism is a rare illness that results in paralysis. North Korea claims that he was given a sleeping pill and he had been in a coma from that time. Otto could not communicate but was able to open his eyes. US doctors said that: “he suffered a severe injury of unidentified cause, leading to a widespread loss of the brain tissue.”

Doctors drawn from the US have disputed North Korea’s claim. Warmbier was suffering from critical brain damage. On 13 June, he was transferred from North Korea to his home City of Cincinnati, Ohio. The reason why he was ill is not yet established.

The family issued a statement saying that: “It is our sad responsibility to report that our son has finished his journey home.

Surrounded by his loving family, Otto passed on today at 2:20 pm” Otto, 22, was studying economics at the University of Virginia. He had traveled to North Korea as a tourist. Otto had traveled with a China-based company known as Young Pioneer Tours. The company has announced that it will no longer accept visitors from the US.

According to BBC, Otto appeared at a news briefing admitting to attempting to take a sign from a hotel as a trophy for a church in the US. He said that: “The motive of my assignment was to harm the enthusiasm and work ethic of the Korean people.”

President Trump reacts bitterly over Otto’s death

US President Donald Trump condemned the brutality and termed North Korea “a brutal regime.” Mr. Trump resolved that his regime will “Prevent such misfortunes from befalling innocent people at the hands of administrations that do not respect basic human decency or the rule of law.”

The Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said that: “This is a government that frankly is a human rights abomination. It is a human rights black hole.” South Korean President issued a condolence message and condemned North Korea for arresting foreign citizens with total disregard for human rights.