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Prosecutors grill former President Park over abuse of power and corruption

Mar 21,2017
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Former President Park Geun-hye arrives at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office for an investigation on Tuesday.
Former President Park Geun-hye showed up for questioning around 9:25 a.m. on Tuesday at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul.

“I offer an apology to the people of our country,” Park said, upon her arrival at the prosecution to be investigated as a primary suspect. “I will faithfully respond to the questioning.”

Park is the country’s first leader ousted by impeachment over an abuse of power and corruption scandal. The Constitutional Court permanently removed Park from office on March 10, 2017, lifting the presidential immunity that has shielded her from criminal prosecution. A special investigation team headed by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office chief Lee Young-ryeol is currently investigating a series of allegations involving Park, her inner circle and large business groups.

The special investigation team said it will question Park in the interrogation room located on the 10th floor.

The questioning is expected to run for hours as she is facing 13 charges, far more than her predecessors. She will be accompanied by her lawyers. Park has named six lawyers last week to represent her. All were her lawyers during the impeachment trial.

The prosecution team started the initial probe at the end of last year and identified Park as a co-conspirator in eight charges, including abuse of power, coercion and leaks of national secrets. Independent counsel Park Young-soo continued the probe and handed over unfinished cases to the prosecution earlier this month.

The independent counsel investigation confirmed the charges and added new allegations of bribery. Park, as of now, is facing 13 charges. Park has denied them all. Exiting the Blue House on March 12, Park said, “Though it may take time, I believe the truth will eventually prevail.”

In the past months, Park also displayed her mistrust of the prosecution and independent counsel. She said the investigations were politically biased and suspicions against her are a “meticulous conspiracy.”

Prosecution sources have said that the specific course of action to take in going after Park will be decided immediately after the questioning, including a plan to seek a detention warrant against her.

Park is the fourth former president of Korea to face prosecutions. Roh Tae-woo was grilled on charges of creating massive slush funds during his term in November 1995. Former President Chun Doo Hwan was questioned for mutiny and treason and was first detained and then questioned in December 1995. Prosecutors visited him multiple times at the Anyang Detention Center.

Former President Roh Moo-hyun was questioned in April 2009 over a bribery allegation. Roh committed suicide shortly after the questioning.


BY SER MYO-JA[ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]