SEOUL, South Korea — Imprisoned former South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday requested a temporarily release so she can be treated for health problems her lawyer says are causing “burning” and “cutting” pain.
An official from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said it will soon review Park’s request. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules against speaking to the media.
South Korean criminal law allows prisoners with serious health problems to be treated at hospitals under the eye of prosecutors before returning to prison after recovery.
Yoo Young-ha, Park’s lawyer, said she has been dealing with disc problems and spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the passageways for spinal nerves, in her neck and back areas, which he said have caused intense pain and sleeping problems.
While Park has been permitted to make several visits to a Seoul hospital to receive pain management treatments, her conditions have worsened to a point where more serious medical care and surgery are required, Yoo said.
Park “has been struggling with a level of pain that makes it impossible for her to sleep normally, but she has been persevering with superhuman will,” Yoo said. “It’s no longer possible to treat the conditions while she stays in prison.”
The prosecution official did not confirm any details on Park’s health.
The 67-year-old Park is serving a prison term of more than 30 years after being convicted in a massive corruption scandal that led to her removal from office and arrest in 2017. Millions of protesters had poured onto the streets calling for Park’s ouster amid allegations that she colluded with a longtime confidant to take tens of millions of dollars from companies in bribes and extortion and allowed the friend to secretly manipulate state affairs.
Park has denied wrongdoing and refused to show up in court during her trials. Yoo said he recommended that Park apply for a release on bail after she was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in her neck last August, but she refused.
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