Park Geun Hye petitions to get out of jail

Christopher Kim, April 18, 2019, 9:29 a.m.

Ex-President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday filed a petition asking to be let out of jail because she is seriously ill.

Park has been incarcerated in a remand prison since March 2017 while standing trial in the massive corruption scandal that led to her being removed from office. She has since been sentenced to decades of consecutive jail terms but remains in the remand prison because one appeal is pending.

Park's lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha said, "The symptoms of her spinal ailments have not improved. She can't sleep because of burning and lacerating pain and numbness."

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office will decide whether Park can be treated in a hospital under police guard.

Park has refused to see any visitors other than her lawyers, but even politicians on her own side were divided at the prospect of her being seen in public.

"If she's spotted in public, it could agitate our main support base," one official at her old Liberty Korea Party said.

But die-hard supporters say she should be set free. LKP lawmaker Choi Gyo-il claimed that under the law on criminal procedures, time served should be counted towards her two-year sentence last November for meddling in party nominations that has not been appealed, so it would have ended last month.

At the same time, the six-month period she can be detained before judgment is passed in the appeal against her 25-year sentence for corruption, extortion and other criminal charges expired this week, so Choi argued she should be free to go home.

"The principle of innocence until proven guilty demands that Park be tried without detention" in the drawn-out appeal, he added.

Park waived her right of appeal, but prosecutors may have shot themselves in the foot by appealing the 25-year sentence as too lenient. 

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