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Monday 11 December 2017

Prosecutors prepare to grill South Korean leader over political scandal

Park Geun-hye during a state visit to the UK
Park Geun-hye during a state visit to the UK

President Park Geun-hye faces questions from South Korean prosecutors this week over her alleged involvement in a political scandal that toppled her from power.

Ms Park was impeached by the opposition-controlled parliament in December over allegations she let her long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil interfere in state affairs and extort money from businesses in collaboration with presidential officials.

Ms Park, who has immunity from prosecution while in office, has said she is willing to undergo questioning.

Prosecution spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said on Tuesday Ms Park's questioning is expected to take place "around February 10".

Prosecutors have tried to search Ms Park's presidential compound twice, but her aides rejected the requests, citing a law that can block searches in areas with official secrets.

The Constitutional Court is deliberating about whether to formally unseat her and trigger an election to choose her successor.

On Tuesday, four former top government officials were indicted for allegedly blacklisting thousands of artists critical of the government.

The four include former culture minister Cho Yoon-sun, who became the first incumbent cabinet member of the Park government to be arrested over the allegation. She resigned after her arrest.

The ex-top officials allegedly pressured culture-related organisations to exclude blacklisted artists from state funding programmes, Mr Lee said. They face charges such as abuse of power and coercion, he said.

Three other senior officials including another former culture minister have already been indicted over the blacklist allegation, which surfaced as authorities were expanding their probe into the political scandal.

Ms Park's confidante, Choi, and several of Ms Park's former advisers have been jailed and face criminal trials.


Press Association

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