South Korea’s ousted leader to undergo questioning over scandal

Former President Park Geun-hye could face extortion, bribery and other criminal charges.

By: AP | Seoul | Published:March 21, 2017 7:07 am
South Korea’s ousted leader Park Geun-hye, foreground, arrives at a prosecutor’s office in Seoul, South Korea Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP)

South Korea’s just-ousted president said she was “sorry” to the people as she arrived Tuesday at a prosecutors’ office for questioning over a corruption scandal that led to her removal from office. Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously to dismiss her as president, about three months after parliament impeached her over allegations she colluded with a confidante to extort money from businesses and committed other wrongdoings.

It was a dramatic fall for Park, a daughter of slain dictator Park Chung-hee, who was elected as the country’s first female president in late 2012 amid a wave of support from conservatives who remembered her father as a hero who pulled the country up from poverty despite his suppression of civil rights. “I am sorry to the people. I will sincerely undergo an investigation,” Park said when arrived at a Seoul prosecutors’ office. She did not elaborate and went inside the building amid a barrage of camera flashes.

It was not clear if her remarks meant she acknowledged the corruption allegations, as she has repeatedly denied any legal wrongdoing. South Korean politicians embroiled in scandals often offer public apologies for causing trouble though they deny their involvement. Dozens of high-profile figures including some top Park government officials and Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong have already been arrested or indicted in connection with the scandal.

Park could face extortion, bribery and other criminal charges, but it is not known if prosecutors will seek to arrest her anytime soon, especially ahead of an election in May to choose her successor. Earlier Tuesday, hundreds of Park supporters waited for hours near her Seoul home, holding national flags and chanting her name as thick lines of police officers separated them from a group of reporters.

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