Park arrested, jailed over corruption allegations

Pablo Tucker
April 5, 2017

Ahead of the hearing Thursday, prosecutors submitted around 120,000 pages of documents to the Seoul Central District Court relating to the charges against Park, and said it would be "counter to the principle of fairness" if she was not arrested.

The decision made Park, 65, the third former leader to be arrested over corruption in Asia's fourth-largest economy, where politics and big business have always been closely tied. She could be charged with a variety of crimes, including bribery, extortion, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

Park's opponents held their own protests in nearby streets, celebrating her arrest and calling for her conservative policies to be erased. She defended the 1961 military coup that installed her father as a revolution to save the country and called for correcting what she deemed a distorted version of history.

A liberal politician opinion polls show as the favorite to become South Korea's next president says the arrest of Park Geun-hye took the country a step toward restoring "justice and common sense".

Come May 9, the entirety of South Korea will be participating yet again in a snap election to determine who will be the country's next leader. Park entered the Seoul Detention Center in a black sedan before dawn Friday after a court approved her arrest on corruption allegations.

According to normal procedure, she would have been processed - including being fingerprinted and having her mugshot taken - changed into prison garb with her prisoner number on the chest, and put in a cell.

Lee is accused of giving or promising to give Choi $37 million to ensure government support for the merger of two Samsung units - crucial for the Samsung scion to retain control of South Korea's biggest conglomerate.

Choi Soon-Sil, Park's secret confidante at the heart of the scandal, is already on trial for forcing top local firms including tech giant Samsung to "donate" almost $70 million to non-profit foundations which she allegedly used for personal gain.

On live television and lit by a barrage of camera flashes, Park did not speak as she exited the Seoul Central District Court building before heading to a prosecutors' office where she will be held until the court determines whether to approve her arrest.

The former leader, who has denied the accusations, was grilled for almost nine hours by the judge.

They have until April 19 to question her before they charge her.

However, she was impeached by Parliament in December, as the scandal combined with mounting economic and social frustrations to trigger huge candlelit demonstrations. An acquittal of Park would negate the Constitutional Court's decision to dismiss her. Since the death of Park's father in 1979, almost every president or their family members have faced graft allegations or spent time in prison.

Another said she had been having "sleepless nights and skipping meals" since moving out of the presidential palace.

Park allegedly offered governmental favours to top businessmen who enriched Choi, including Samsung's Lee. Prosecutors accuse her of colluding with a jailed confidante to amass an illicit fortune and allowing the friend to manipulate state affairs. But that very isolation also caused her to lean heavily on Choi Soon-sil, the longtime friend at the heart of the scandal.

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