South Korean prosecutors seek arrest of ex-president Park

ARREST WARRANT: Park could face lifelong imprisonment if convicted in a criminal court –

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors on Monday requested the arrest of impeached president Park Geun Hye on corruption allegations, local media reported.
According to the Yonhap news agency, Park faces charges of “bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets” relating to a scandal surrounding her confidante, Choi Soon-Sil.
“A lot of evidence has been collected so far, but, as the suspect denies most of the criminal allegations, there is a possibility of her destroying evidence,” Yonhap reported, quoting a prosecution statement.
“It would be unfair not to seek a warrant considering that her accomplice, Choi Soon-Sil, as well as those government officials
who followed her direction and the ones who gave kickbacks have
all been detained,” the statement added.
Last week, Park spent about 14 hours being interrogated by prosecutors.
Seoul Central District Court has set a hearing for Thursday to consider the prosecutors’ request for an arrest warrant, Yonhap reported. If the court rules to issue the warrant, a judge would then need to arraign the former leader in custody in order to formally jail her.
According to local media, Park could face lifelong imprisonment if convicted in a criminal court.
Park, 65, South Korea’s first female president, was impeached by the National Assembly in December on charges of colluding with Choi to extort money from top South Korean companies and of allowing Choi to interfere with state affairs.
The impeachment removed the immunity that had protected Park from criminal prosecution.
Park has repeatedly apologised for the scandal, but has denied committing any criminal offence. Choi has separately pleaded not guilty to a string of charges including abuse of power and attempted fraud.
Park was among the country’s most influential conservative politicians and was elected to the National Assembly five times.— dpa