by WorldTribune Staff, February 28, 2018
Lawyers representing impeached South Korean President Park Geun-Hye are asking the UN to help secure her release after prosecutors called for a 30-year sentence and a court in Seoul extended her detention by six months.
“The UN is looking at our application urgently and the South Korean authorities need to respond,” lawyer Rodney Dixon told the Guardian. “We have asked the UN to address the matter as swiftly as possible because every day counts.”
The ultimate decision to release Park rests with the South Korean courts, which the conservative former president said she has “lost faith” in.
The prosecution in Park’s bribery and corruption trial has called for a 30-year prison sentence and a fine of 118.5 billion won ($110 million).
In her first public comments since her trial began six months ago, Park told a hearing at the Seoul Central District Court on Feb. 26: “I was supposed to be released today, but the court issued another arrest warrant … I can’t accept its decision.”
“My lawyers and I felt helpless,” Park said, according to the Korea Times. “I have lost faith that the court will do a fair job in accordance with the constitution and conscience.”
In what analysts says was a comment directed at her leftist successor and political rival, South Korean President Moon Jae-In, Park said “I hope I will be the last victim of political revenge in the name of the rule of law.”
Park, 65, suffers from chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis in her knee and shoulder joints, and Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands.
Park, who was elected South Korea’s first female president in 2012, is accused of colluding with her close friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to secure tens of millions of dollars in bribes from businesses in return for political favors.
Park’s lawyers said she did not receive any benefit, financial or otherwise.
“Park is single, with no children or spouse to support. She had no motive to seek financial benefit,” one lawyer said.
Park told the court on Feb. 26: “I never accepted or granted requests for favors while in office. I believe it has been fully revealed during the course of the trial that the corresponding suspicions are not true.”
The allegation that companies were awarded government contracts as a result of Choi’s influence lack merit, the lawyer said, as “some of the firms implicated would have won the contracts without personal connections to her.”
Park and Choi “were not briefed in detail about the allegations and many claims by the prosecution were based on supposition and conjecture, and lacked facts,” the lawyer said.
South Korea courts have convicted most of the primary players implicated in the scandal with the exception of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-Yong. Lee was released on appeal after the Seoul High Court handed down a suspended prison term, overturning a lower court ruling that sentenced him to five years in prison.