South Korea's ex-president Park to appear in court to avoid arrest

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-28 21:03

SEOUL -- Former President Park Geun-hye of South Korea on Tuesday decided to appear in a Seoul court to avoid arrest, which is being sought by prosecutors over a corruption scandal embroiling her.

The special investigation headquarters of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, tasked with the probe into the scandal, said Tuesday via text message that Park's legal team informed the prosecutors of Park's decision to appear in the Seoul Central District Court on Thursday.

The court would decide whether to take Park into custody after studying evidence provided by prosecutors and testimonies offered by Park who was grilled by prosecutors last week.

Prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for Park Monday for multiple charges including bribery, abuse of power and the leakage of state secrets. The court's decision is forecast to be made late Thursday or early Friday.

If the court decides to issue the warrant, Park would become the third South Korean former leader to be detained. Two former military strongmen were arrested in 1995 for charges of mutiny and corruption.

A total of 13 charges were levied by both state and special prosecutors against Park. Prosecutors already branded Park as a criminal accomplice to her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Park was charged with receiving tens of millions of US dollars in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who is now in custody, in return for offering assistance in Lee's inheritance of management control of Samsung Group from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

The younger Lee had effectively taken the helm of the country's biggest family-controlled conglomerate after his father was hospitalized for heart attack almost three years ago.

Choi was accused of extorting tens of millions of dollars from scores of conglomerates to establish two nonprofit foundations she used for personal gains.

One of Park's former secretaries, who is detained, is suspected of providing secret government documents to Choi on a regular basis to enable Choi to meddle in state affairs behind the scenes.

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