**Washington: ** The family of a US student, who died after he was jailed in North Korea, have implicitly rebuked President Donald Trump’s lauding of Kim Jong-un.
Otto Warmbier’s parents said they have been “respectful” during Trump and the North Korean leader’s second summit in Vietnam in February end, but were now speaking out, the BBC reported.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier said “no excuse or lavish praise can change” the fact that “Kim and his evil regime” killed their 22-year-old son.
Their statement came after Trump heaped compliments on Kim despite the two-day summit having ended on February 28 without any proper assurance of denuclearisation by the Asian regime. The talks ended without an agreement.
Trump told reporters in Hanoi on Thursday referring to Warmbier’s death: “He (Kim) tells me he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.” He also said that the North Korean leader felt “very badly” about the case.
In a Fox News interview aired late on Thursday, Trump said Kim was “sharp as you can be” and “a real leader”. “Some people say I shouldn’t like him… Why shouldn’t I like him?”
The family’s brief statement on Friday condemned Trump’s praise for the North Korean leader, without mentioning the President by name.
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto… responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuse or lavish praise can change that,” it said.
After the blistering statement, the US President took to Twitter where he said he had been “misinterpreted”.
“I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family. Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible….
“….for Otto’s mistreatment and death. Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!” Trump said.
Warmbier was accused of stealing a hotel poster and jailed in Pyongyang in January 2016 during an organised tour.
The University of Virginia student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour, but released after 17 months following international pressure.
He was returned to the US in a vegetative state in June 2017, and died days after in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Warmbiers attended the 2018 State of the Union speech as the president’s guests, weeping as he called them “powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world”.
Back at the White House after the Vietnam talks, Trump even accepted that he gets along “really well” with Kim, the BBC said.
He described the asian leader as “he’s a real personality and he’s very smart. He’s sharp as you can be, and he’s a real leader, and he’s pretty mercurial. I don’t say that necessarily in a bad way, but he’s a pretty mercurial guy.”