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(LEAD) Ex-presidential secretary questioned again over scandal

All News 10:30 April 06, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, paras 2-4, 7 with Woo's appearance; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- A former presidential secretary was grilled by prosecutors Thursday as a suspect over a string of allegations surrounding a corruption scandal that removed former President Park Geun-hye from office.

Woo Byung-woo, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs from 2015 to 2016, appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office at around 10 a.m.

"I will answer every question faithfully during today's interrogation," Woo told reporters as he arrived at the office.

"I feel heartbroken about the president," he said, when asked if he had anything to say to the public.

He is accused of aiding and abetting Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of Park, in meddling in state affairs and disrupting a special presidential inspector's investigation into the scandal.

Prosecutors also suspect that Woo used his influence to block a prosecution probe into failed rescue efforts during the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry that killed 304 people, and unlawfully intervened in appointments and inspections of government officials.

It was the third time for the former presidential secretary to be questioned by investigators. He was summoned by state prosecutors last year and by an independent counsel team in February.

The independent counsel team that looked into the scandal sought the arrest of Woo, but a district court refused, saying the allegations raised were debatable. Woo has denied any wrongdoing.

Woo is one of the last figures embroiled in the scandal that has avoided detention so far, while a number of Park's former aides were arrested and are standing trial.

Prosecutors are expected to review whether to seek the arrest again after questioning.

Woo Byung-woo, former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, arrives at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in the capital on April 6, 2017, to undergo questioning over a corruption scandal. (Yonhap)


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