NATIONAL

[Breaking] Park appears for questioning over corruption scandal

  • Published : Mar 21, 2017 - 09:35
  • Updated : Mar 21, 2017 - 13:54
Former President Park Geun-hye appeared before the prosecution’s office Tuesday to be grilled as a criminal suspect over the corruption scandal that led to her impeachment.

Escorted by security guards and her lawyers, Park arrived at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul at 9:23 a.m. to undergo an interrogation expected to last past midnight. 

Former President Park Geun-hye (Screen captured from SBS)

“I am sorry,” Park said before entering the building. “I will sincerely cooperate with the investigation.“

It is the first time she has made a public appearance since she moved out of the presidential residence on March 12.

The disgraced leader, after arriving at her private home, said through a spokesperson that the truth will come out someday. Coming two days after the court ruled to expel her on March 10, it was widely taken as a hint at her unwillingness to concede.

While in office, Park refused to undergo face-to-face questioning and blocked a raid on the presidential office. Upon the court's ruling, she was stripped of the immunity that has shielded her from criminal prosecution.

The prosecution are set to grill Park over a total of 13 charges, including bribery, abuse of authority and leak of government secrets. 

Park heads to prosecution from her private resident in Samseong-dong, for questioning over corruption scandal on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Before heading to the interrogation room, Park is expected to have a short meeting over tea with Roh Seung-kwon, a deputy chief of the special probe team into the scandal, at his office on the 13th floor.

She is set to be questioned in the investigation room on the 10th floor, equipped with video and audio recording facilities.

The prosecution assigned senior prosecutors under the special probe team -- Han Woong-jae and Lee Won-seok. They investigated the corruption scandal until the probe was handed over to an independent counsel Park Young-soo in December.

Park’s loyal supporters gathered around the prosecution’s office in the morning to hold a rally and greet the ousted leader. Waving national flags, they called for the impeachment to be invalidated.

Security has been tightened around the office, with thousands of police officers dispatched to the scene. Only the media companies which have earlier been granted a permit were allowed into the prosecution’s complex. 

Park heads to prosecution for questioning over corruption scandal on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Park is suspected of receiving bribes from Samsung Group in return for political favors, creating a blacklist of liberal artists to discriminate against them and leaking government secrets to her confidante Choi soon-sil.

She has denied all the charges, claiming no knowledge of Choi and her inner circle’s wrongdoings.

Her friend Choi and others, including ex-presidential secretaries and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, have been arrested and are standing trial in connection with the corruption scandal.

Park is the country‘s fourth former president to face a criminal investigation, following Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Moo-hyun.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)