A South Korean court on Saturday rejected an arrest warrant for the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the corruption scandal that led to former President Park Geun-hye’s downfall.
“It is hard to acknowledge the reason, necessity and appropriateness for her arrest at the current stage (of the investigation)” the Seoul Central District Court said, citing a lack of evidence as the reason for the rejection.
Chung Yoo-ra, 21, was released at around 2:20 a.m. from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, where she had awaited the court's decision.
Chung Yoo-ra, daughter of ousted President Park Geun-hye’s friend Choi Soon-sil, heads to a courtroom at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul to attend a hearing on her arrest warrant on Friday. (Yonhap)
"I am really sorry for causing trouble. I am really sorry. I will sincerely undergo questioning by the prosecution," Chung told reporters as she left the prosecution's office.
The prosecution had sought an arrest warrant for Chung on two charges -- enrolling at Ewha Womans University through illegal means and using fabricated documents to obtain leave of absence from a high school.
Chung will now face questioning by the prosecution without being detained. She has been in custody at the Nambu Detention Center in southwestern Seoul, where her mother is being held, following her arrival in Korea.
Chung was extradited from Denmark and arrested onboard a Korean Air flight en route to Seoul on Wednesday to face questioning by the prosecution. She had been held at Nambu Detention Center, where her mother is being held.
She faces allegations that she was accepted into an elite school despite questionable qualifications and given special favors for academic records despite poor attendance on the back of her mother’s ties to Park. Her mother and the school’s officials are on trial for their roles in the alleged academic fraud.
She is also suspected of receiving illicit funding from Samsung Group. Samsung allegedly offered 7.8 billion won ($6.95 million) to Choi-controlled entities to cover Chung’s equestrian training abroad and buy expensive horses.
The prosecution considers it as bribes in return for the Park administration’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates, a key step to consolidate Samsung de facto chief Lee Jae-yong’s control over the nation’s largest conglomerate.
Lee is on a separate trial and has denied the charges.
Chung has distanced herself from the allegations, shifting all responsibility to her mother.
Upon her arrival at Incheon Airport on Wednesday, she said, “I think I was wrongly accused. I don’t know what happened between my mother and former President Park Geun-hye.”
Her mother Choi is jailed and on trial on charges of colluding with former President Park to extort bribes and donations from local firms. Park, who was removed from office in March over the scandal, is also on trial for the same charges. They denied all the accusations.
Chung had been in the custody of Danish authorities since January for illegal stay while fighting the extradition order. She withdrew the appeal earlier this month.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org