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(2nd LD) Prosecutors seek arrest of ex-President Park in corruption probe

All Headlines 11:59 March 27, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 5-6)

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korean prosecutors on Monday requested an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye over a string of corruption allegations that led to her removal from office, they said.

Park faces charges of bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets in connection with a scandal involving her longtime friend 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," the prosecution said in a 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," it said.

Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group, was arrested and indicted on charges of giving bribes to Choi, and in effect to Park, in return for business favors.

Prosecutors concluded that the allegations raised against Park are very serious, in that she abused her "powerful status and authority" in leaking government secrets and letting her friend extort money from local businesses, infringing upon their right to freedom of corporate management.

Park went through a marathon interrogation over the suspicions last week after the Constitutional Court upheld the National Assembly's decision to dismiss her on March 10.

If the Seoul Central District Court issues the warrant, Park will become the country's third former president to be arrested for criminal allegations following Roh Tae-woo and Chun Doo-hwan.

Park has been accused of letting Choi meddle in state affairs and amass profits by exerting influence based on her ties to the former president.

Former President Park Geun-hye leaves her home in Seoul for prosecution questioning on March 21, 2017. Park, dismissed by the Constitutional Court on March 10, faces a probe on 13 criminal allegations, including graft and abuse of power. Upon arrival at the prosecution's office, Park said she will comply with the investigation with sincerity. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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