Ousted South Korea President Park Geun-Hye is arrested, verdict is still on hold

 

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Former South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (Getty Images – BBC)

 

Prosecutors on Tuesday questioned the former South Korea President Park Geun-Hye for the first time since the Seoul Central District Court issued her an arrest warrant on March 31st. The prosecutors focused on identifying Park’s role in allegations of bribery, coercion, and abuse of power, which amount to a total of 13 charges.

Park is accused of conspiring with her long-time friend and accomplice, Choi Soon-Sil, to receive bribes from Lee Jae-Yong, the heir of the nation’s most influential corporation: Samsung. Park assisted Lee’s inheritance of Samsung’s management sector from his father, the Chairman Lee Kun-Hee, who has been ill for almost three years.

The former president is also suspected of scheming with Choi to embezzle nearly 80 billion (71.8 million USD) – initially earned from dozens of conglomerate businesses – as donations to two non-profit organizations supposedly controlled by Choi.

 The questioning began at around 10 a.m. at the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, a city at the south of Seoul, where Park has been held in detention for a week. Such location for the interrogation was due to security issues and Park’s health concerns.

The first investigation took nearly 11 hours, ending at around 8:40 p.m., according to the Korean newspaper Kyunghayang Shinmun. Park was accompanied by her legal representative Yoo Yeong-Ha during the interrogation.

Despite the evidence presented to her during the interrogation, Park has denied all the allegations according to Yonhapnews. However, the criminal relationship between Park and Choi has already been identified by prosecutors. Choi had been arrested and sent to the same detention center where Park was sent last week, although it was recently announced that Choi would be transferred to another facility to prevent the accomplices from contacting each other.

Park’s next investigation is scheduled for Thursday, and prosecutors are considering to request for an extension on Park’s mandatory arrest, which will end on the April, 9. If the extension is granted, the prosecutors will be able to detain Park until April, 19.

Park Geun-Hye has become the third former South Korean president to be jailed, and the first democratically elected leader to be ousted from office. This massive political scandal has brought forth gigantic turmoil; it is now up to the new leader to reconcile the sharply divided nation and strive once again. South Korea will hold a presidential election on May 9.

. Article by Min Bae

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