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(3rd LD) Moon deplores North Korea's rights violations after U.S. student's death

All News 14:54 June 20, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS political parties' remarks in paras 10-15)

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in deplored North Korea's human rights violations Tuesday, expressing condolences to the family of a U.S. student who died following 17 months of captivity in the communist North.

"President Moon Jae-in expressed regrets after hearing the news of (Otto) Warmbier's death, and the president plans to send his condolences and consolation to his family and relatives," Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, told a press briefing.

A Cheong Wa Dae official later said the president has sent a letter of condolence to Warmbier's family.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student returned home last week after 17 months of detention in the North, but in a coma. He died Monday (U.S. time) due to what his family has called the "awful torturous mistreatment" by North Korea.

(3rd LD) Moon deplores North Korea's rights violations after U.S. student's death - 1

Moon, in a recent interview with a foreign news outlet, said it was "deplorable that North Korea does not respect human rights, which are the universal norms and values of humankind," according to Park.

"The president has also raised questions whether the North had fulfilled its human rights duties, such as notifying Warmbier's family of his condition when it worsened and allowing him to receive the best treatment," the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

The presidential office also urged the North to quickly release South Korean and U.S. citizens held there.

"North Korea continues to detain our people and U.S. citizens, but it will have to quickly return them to their families, and the (Seoul) government will do its utmost to that end," Park said.

The North is said to be holding at least six South Koreans and three U.S. citizens on various charges that include anti-state activities.

Meanwhile, ruling and opposition parties mourned the death of Warmbier and berated the North for its apparent mishandling of the American citizen.

"That (the North) concealed the fact that he had been in a coma for over a year was an unpardonable and inexcusable act that disregarded human life," Back Hye-ryun, the spokeswoman of the ruling Democratic Party, told reporters.

"The North must apologize to the bereaved family and international community, and actively cooperate in the efforts to verify the cause of his death," she added.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party said Warmbier's death shed a new light on the brutal nature of the Kim Jong-un regime.

"We express our condolences over the heart-rending death of the young man," Kim Sung-won, the party's spokesman, said in a commentary.

The People's Party warned the North's "barbaric" behavior will only lead to a toughening of international sanctions against it, while the Bareun Party raised questions over whether Pyongyang is a legitimate partner for any future dialogue.

bdk@yna.co.kr

sshluck@yna.co.kr
(END)

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