S Korean presidential office regrets prosecutors' investigation results

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-20 18:44

S Korean presidential office regrets prosecutors' investigation results

Protesters wearing cut-outs of South Korean President Park Geun-hye (R) and Choi Soon-sil attend a protest denouncing Park over a recent influence-peddling scandal in central Seoul, South Korea, in this October 27, 2016 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-hye's office expressed deep regrets Sunday over prosecutors' interim investigation results that suspected Park of having conspired with her longtime confidante and former aides for multiple crimes.

President spokesman Jung Youn-kuk told a press briefing that the prosecution office's announcement was deeply regrettable, saying prosecutors regarded Park as having committed a grave crime.

Jung said President Park will prove her innocence by actively cooperating with an investigation by a special prosecutor who will be appointed given that the president unconditionally accepted the independent counsel proposal.

The comments followed the prosecutors' announcement that Park has a complicity "to a significant extent" with her decades-long friend, Choi Soon-sil, and two former presidential aides indicted on Sunday for criminal charges.

Park became the first incumbent South Korean president in history to be investigated by prosecutors as a criminal suspect.

Eight heavyweight politicians and presidential hopefuls agreed to ask their opposition parties to discuss the impeachment of the scandal-hit president.

Even scores of non-Park faction members in the ruling Saenuri Party and its presidential potentials called on the embattled president to be immediately impeached and secede from their party.

The impeachment, however, can be a tough option to select as the passage of impeachment motion requires at least 200 ayes from the 300 parliamentary seats. The Saenuri Party has over 120 seats in the National Assembly.

Even after the passage, it must be approved by at least six judges of the nine-member constitutional court. Two judges, including the chief justice, are scheduled to end their tenure early next year. They would be replaced by new ones appointed by the president.

The presidential spokesman said it would be better to settle up the controversy through legitimate procedures, indicating the office's preference for the impeachment process.

Meanwhile, Park's attorney reportedly said he will reject any request for face-to-face questioning from prosecutors, vowing to prepare for an investigation by a "neutral" special prosecutor.

Prosecutors originally requested the questioning no later than Wednesday and re-proposed it as late as Friday, but the president's lawyer delayed it to next week.

The possibility is open for the questioning to be postponed to an undefined date. The special prosecutor's team, composed of four deputy independent counsels, 20 dispatched prosecutors and 40 investigators, is expected to be launched as early as early next month unless President Park vetoes it.

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