Celtic fan who was jailed and tortured in North Korea has died

A Celtic fan who was detained and tortured for more than 15 months for stealing a propaganda flag in North Korea has died.

Otto Warmbier had only just turned 21 when he was arrested and detained in North Korea in January last year before being sentenced to 15 years hard labour.

But the student fell in to a coma was returned to his hometown in Cincinatti last week were he was being treated by medical professionals.

North Korea said botulism and a sleeping pill led to the coma, but US doctors have disputed this account and say Warmbier has been in a coma for roughly a year.

March 16, 2016: Otto Warmbier is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin, File)

It is believed that Otto, a keen soccer and Celtic fan, was regularly tortured in the infamous prison system of the communist dictatorship.

His parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier denounced the “pariah” regime that brutalised their son.

In a statement released on Monday morning they said: “It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home.  Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.  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.

“We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto. Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.

“When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished.  Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace.  He was home and we believe he could sense that.

“We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers.   We are at peace and at home too.”

Mr Warmbier was caught stealing a Kim-Jong-Il poster this year from a North Korean hotel in what he later described as the “worst mistake of his life”.

A former inmate at the same jail told how prisoners were woken up at 5am and made to work in the baking heat until sunset and forced to watch live executions.

The conditions were said to be similar to those seen at Auschwitz in World War Two.The United Nations view these brutal imprisonments in North Korea as “crimes against humanity.”

The family only discovered his medical situation in the days leading up to his release.

11 thoughts on “Celtic fan who was jailed and tortured in North Korea has died”

  1. God bless you Otto. A young man mistreated for no reason other than being born in the wrong Country. You’ll never walk alone, Hail Hail.

  2. I’ve only ever seen one picture of him wearing a Celtic jersey. They can be bought worldwide. Is there more pictures of him showing his passion for our club?

  3. RIP young man
    Only the good die young
    Thoughts and prayers to the family at this hard time

    From a Glasgow Rangers fan

  4. Let this be a harsh lesson to those who think stealing is banner is a laugh, it might be in their own country but this is not their own country. Remember the young American that went to Singapore and decided to do some artwork on their wall, got the chance of jail time or X amount of lashes o think it was 100. America was having a fit and Singapore reminded them, they were not in America and it was unlawful in their country to deface property. Guess who took the lashes and guess who got a education? THE WORLD did. I wish Britain had the guts to day our rules or leave.

  5. Omg this is absolutely tragic, my thoughts and prayers are with his family st this sad time
    God bless you Otto may you rest in peace

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