Korean Prosecutors Seek to Arrest Park on Graft Allegations

  • Prosecutors questioned Park on March 21 following her ouster
  • She is suspected of colluding to seek bribes from companies

Park Geun-hye Arrest Sought by Korean Prosecutors

South Korean prosecutors sought to arrest former President Park Geun-hye over allegations that she abused her powers and colluded with her longtime friend and former aides to get bribes from the nation’s top businesses.

Government attorneys submitted a request at the Seoul Central District Court to issue an arrest warrant for Park, prosecutors said in a text message on Monday. It’s reasonable and lawful to detain her because there’s a risk that she will destroy evidence since she continues to deny wrongdoing, they said.

The court will hold a hearing on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. to consider whether to issue the warrant, with an announcement likely by early the next morning. Several associates of Park are already on trial for their role in the scandal that brought down the nation’s first female president. Prosecutors questioned Park for 14 hours last Tuesday after she lost her presidential immunity following her ouster.

Read about Korea’s struggle to root out graft from its political system

Park risks becoming the third former South Korean president to be put behind bars. In the 1990s, Chun Doo-hwan was sentenced to death and Roh Tae-woo received a 22 1/2-year term after the pair were found guilty of creating slush funds and inciting a coup. Both were later pardoned.

Pressuring Executives

She is suspected of pressuring top business executives to donate tens of millions of dollars to foundations run by her friend Choi Soon-sil in return for government favors. Prosecutors also allege that she colluded with Choi to seek bribes from Samsung Group’s heir apparent Jay Y. Lee in return for business favors. Choi and Lee are in detention as their trials proceed, and both deny wrongdoing.

Park “abused her presidential position and received bribes from companies,” according to the text message. Prosecutors also allege that she infringed on the freedom of corporate management and leaked classified information.

Read more on why Park lost her job

In upholding the parliament’s December decision to impeach her, South Korea’s constitutional court said on March 10 that Park abused her presidential powers for the personal gain of Choi. An election for the next president is scheduled for May 9, with Park’s opponents leading in polls.

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