South Korean supporters of arrested ex-president to protest

Trevor Jackson
April 12, 2017

A convoy of vehicles, including a black sedan carrying Ms Park, entered a detention facility near Seoul after the Seoul Central District Court granted prosecutors' request to arrest her.

The arrest warrant for Park, which was sought by prosecutors earlier this week, was issued by the court, following the Thursday hearing that had lasted for almost nine hours, the longest-ever in the country's history.

Park and her lawyers had argued that she should not be arrested because she did not pose a flight risk and would not try to tamper with evidence.

After a marathon court hearing, former President Park was arrested earlier in the day in connection with a massive corruption scandal that brought her down.

The only privilege the 65-year-old could have over other inmates will be slightly more space and a toilet and shower in an adjoining room, rather than within her cell, former correctional and prosecution officials said.

Her impeachment this month has left a political vacuum, with only an interim president pending a May 9 election, at a time of rising tensions with North Korea over its weapons programme and with China, which is angry over South Korea's decision to host a USA anti-missile system.

Ms Park's alleged crimes include bribery, coercion, the abuse of power and the sharing of state secrets with a long-time confidante, Choi Soon-sil.

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Supporters of arrested former President Park rallied in South Korea's capital Saturday for her release. Prosecutors have said that Park colluded in the scheme.

Park's hairdresser came to her home as usual on Thursday morning to coif the former president's hair in her favorite chignon style. Park once described Choi as someone who helped her when she had "difficulties", an apparent reference to her parents' assassinations in the 1970s.

Choi Soon-Sil, Park's secret confidante at the heart of the scandal, is already on trial for forcing top local firms, including tech giant Samsung to "donate" almost $70m to nonprofit foundations, which she allegedly used for personal gain. Even as she maintains that she never sought personal advantage for herself, she could still be charged as a "joint principal offender", legal experts say-if prosecutors can prove that she was involved in planning to commit extortion with Ms Choi.

South Korea's parliament voted overwhelmingly in December to impeach Park on allegations that she allowed her childhood friend Choi Soon-sil access to classified documents and privileged information.

Elections to appoint a new president are to be held on May 9.

Yet her early imprisonment does not rule out a fierce battle in court: far more evidence would be required to prove criminal guilt than to justify a pre-trial arrest. A conviction for bribery alone has a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and maximum of life imprisonment in South Korea.

Park allegedly offered governmental favours to top businessmen who enriched Choi, including Samsung's Lee. Samsung's Lee faces bribery, embezzlement and three other charges punishable by at least five years in prison.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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