Korean court approves arrest of ex-president over scandal

31 March, 2017, 02:02 | Author: Essie Rivera

A South Korean court began deliberating on Thursday whether to arrest ousted president Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office in a corruption scandal involving charges she solicited bribes from the country's largest conglomerate.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's disgraced former President Park Geun-hye was arrested and jailed Friday over high-profile corruption allegations that already ended her tumultuous four-year rule and prompted an election to find her successor.

About two hours after the ruling, Park was driven to the Seoul Detention Centre located just outside of the city in a black sedan, with two female investigators escorting her, televised news showed.

Government attorneys requested the arrest warrant on Monday, citing the gravity of Park's alleged crimes and the risk that she could destroy evidence.

Ahead of the hearing, prosecutors submitted around 120,000 pages of documents to the Seoul Central District Court in relation to the charges against Park, and said it would be "counter to the principle of fairness" if she was not arrested. The former president, who was waiting for the court decision at the prosecutors' office, was taken to the Seoul Detention Center where Samsung's Jay Y. Lee and Park's long-time friend Choi Soon-sil are being held.

"There is a concern over destruction of evidence, so the grounds and necessity for [her] arrest are acknowledged", warrant judge Kang Bu-young explained in a statement. Park's marathon warrant-request hearing Thursday lasted almost nine hours - the longest in South Korean history for such a hearing.

If the court refuses to issue the warrant, the prosecution could still decide to indict Park without detention.

She can be detained for up to 20 days before prosecutors file formal charges, meaning she may be in jail while her case is heard.

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The Constitutional Court ruled to dismiss Park over the allegations earlier in March, three months after Parliament impeached her.

Choi is accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to non-profit foundations she controlled.

Oct 31, 2016: State prosecutors arrest Choi on suspicion of exerting inappropriate influence over state affairs.

Last week she underwent a marathon 21-hour interrogation session at the prosecutors' office, having refused repeated requests to be interviewed while in power.

If convicted of bribery, which carries the heaviest punishment among all charges facing Park, she can be sentenced to life imprisonment or a term of more than 10 years.

Park's powers were suspended in December after lawmakers passed an impeachment motion against her following weeks of protests by millions of people. They wept, chanted slogans and tried to block Park's auto before being pushed back by police.

She and Choi have both denied any wrongdoing.

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