Park Geun Hye is waiting for a court decision on her arrest

David Park, March 30, 2017, 9:18 a.m.


Disgraced former President Park Geun-hye is awaiting a court decision on whether she should be arrested on corruption and other charges that led to her removal from office. After a nearly nine-hour hearing at the Seoul Central District Court on Thursday, Park was transferred to a makeshift detention facility set up on the 10th floor at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office just next to the courthouse. 

The result is expected early Friday morning. 

Accompanied by two of her lawyers, she is belived to have denied all the charges including bribery and abuse of power. She has claimed that she never forced local firms to make donations and was unaware of her inner circle’s alleged wrongdoings. 

Park arrived at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul in a black sedan at around 10:20 a.m. and walked into the court house without answering any questions from roughly 100 reporters. She walked out of the courthouse at 7:11 p.m., looking tense and grim-faced.

The prosecution asked the court to issue the arrest warrant on a total of 13 charges Monday, citing the gravity of her charges, the possibility of her destroying evidence and the precedent that other key figures tied to the scandal had already been arrested. 

Park’s jailed confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the corruption scandal, is already on trial for coercing donations from local firms. Former presidential aides, ex-ministers and Samsung Group’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong have also been arrested and are standing trial.

Park is suspected of extorting donations worth 77.4 billion won ($69.6 million) from local firms including Samsung Group for the Mir and K-Sports foundations controlled by Choi in return for political favors. 

An independent counsel team, which ended its 70-day probe into the scandal on Feb. 28, suspected that part of Samsung’s donations had been bribes made in return for political favors. 

Samsung is accused of providing or promising funds totaling 43.3 billion won to Park’s friend Choi and her business interests in exchange for the Park administration’s backing of a 2015 merger of its two affiliates, a move seen as a crucial step for the smooth transfer of management from Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee to his only son Jae-yong. 

Park is currently being held in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, awaiting the court‘s decision. If the warrant is approved she will be moved to a formal detention facility in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province.

If convicted of bribery, which carries the heaviest punishment among all the charges facing Park, she could be sentenced to life imprisonment or a term of more than 10 years. 

Park’s other charges include allowing Choi to meddle in state affairs, leaking government secrets to her and discriminating against liberal-leaning artists. 

Park was expelled from office on March 10, with less than a year remaining in her five-year term, in a unanimous decision by the Constitutional Court to finalize the Dec. 9 parliamentary impeachment. 

The ruling stripped her of the immunity that had shielded her from criminal investigation.

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