Published: Wed, April 05, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

SKorean supporters of arrested ex-president protest in Seoul

SKorean supporters of arrested ex-president protest in Seoul

"We wish that the sad history of a former president getting arrested never repeats in the Republic of Korea", the Liberty Korea Party said in a statement, using South Korea's formal name.

She is accused of allowing her close friend Choi Soon-sil to extort money from companies, including Samsung, in return for political favours. It is unclear yet as to whether prosecutors will summon Park or visit the Seoul Detention Center to question her. Former President Chun Doo-hwan, a close aide to Park Chung-hee, writes in a forthcoming memoir that he told the military to keep Choi Tae-min away from the late president's family so that he could not exploit them.

Ahead of Thursday's hearing, prosecutors submitted around 120,000 pages of documents to the Seoul Central District Court, and said it would be "counter to the principle of fairness" if Park were not arrested. Turning out in their thousands, Park's defenders protested against her arrest following allegations of corruption.

Park and Choi are accused of separately receiving a bribe from Samsung and colluding with top officials to blacklist artists critical of Park's policies to deny them state financial assistance programs, according to prosecutors.

Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant at around 3 a.m. and Park was taken to a detention center south of the South Korean capital. Officials for the facility have said Park will be expected to adhere to the existing rules in place at the centre.

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 United States anti-missile system.

"Considering the fairness of law and principles (entailed, ) the arrest of former President Park is an obvious conclusion", said Park Kyung-mi, the spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Korea.

Park was taken into custody at her home and taken to a detention center - a scene that was covered on live South Korean television.

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The chest of Park's uniform was emblazoned with her prison number - 503 - by which she will be known during her incarceration.

Citizens rose up against her over a corruption scandal, the National Assembly voted to impeach her, the Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment motion, the prosecution investigated and requested her arrest, and the judiciary acknowledged the necessity to detain her.

The 65-year-old was driven to a detention centre south of Seoul after a court approved her arrest.

Park and Choi deny most of the allegations.

If she is given a jail term along with other accomplices, her only way out of prison early would be parole or a pardon. In an earlier article, I suggested that Russian interference could give courts authority to install Clinton or hold a new election as early as December 10. While there was reportedly a sharp debate over the 13 charges during Park's arrest warrant hearing, Prosecutors had already amassed a considerable amount of evidence during their three investigations. Opinion surveys show liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2012 presidential election to Park, is a clear favorite to win.

If eventually found guilty, she would face at least 10 years in prison, legal experts said.

When she first ran for president in 2007, her relationship with Choi's father became a campaign issue.

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