South Korea court approves warrant to arrest ousted president Park Geun-hye

Posted March 31, 2017

Ousted President Park Geun-hye attended a hearing Thursday at a Seoul court in a move apparently aimed at avoiding jail time.

Park Geun Hye was detained on Friday according to Yonhap news agency, after a South Korean court issued a warrant for her arrest.

The Seoul court said it made a decision to approve Park's arrest because of worries that Park may try to destroy evidence.

South Korea's disgraced former president has arrived at a detention center after a Seoul court approved her arrest over corruption allegations.

The former president, who was stripped of her immunity when she was dismissed from office by the country's top court earlier this month, is accused of multiple offences including bribery, leaking government information, and abuse of power.

State prosecutors have up to 20 days to level formal charges against Park in order to keep her in detention awaiting trial.

Prosecutors have said they wanted to arrest Park because the allegations against her are "grave" and because other suspects involved the scandal, including her confidante Choi Soo-sil, have already been arrested.

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The 65-year-old looked exhausted for the long-running hearing, TV footage showed, as she was flanked by two female investigators to get into a black sedan offered by prosecutors.

Jan 1, 2017: Park denies wrongdoing, calling accusations "fabrication and falsehood". When prosecutors went to apprehend him, his supporters blocked them for hours. A bribery conviction alone is punishable by up to life in prison in South Korea.

Many Park supporters waved national flags and shouted "president" as Park's vehicle entered the facility.

Millions of South Koreans took to the streets to protest after the allegations came to light, with demonstrations every weekend for months before the Constititional Court ruled to remove her from the post on March 10. It broke open the scandal in the fall, which led quickly to Park's fall.

If she is arrested, Park will likely be given a bigger cell than other inmates in a Seoul detention facility but be subject to the same rules on everything from meals to room inspections, former prosecution and correctional officials have said.

On Thursday, Park, 65, arrived expressionless at the court to plead her case that she should not be arrested or held while prosecutors investigate the scandal.

Choi is accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to non-profit foundations she controlled. She apologised for putting trust in Choi, but said she only let her edit some of her presidential speeches and provide the president with some "public relations" help. Park's father Chung-hee was gunned down by his own intelligence chief in 1979, five years after his wife was killed in an assassination attempt that targeted him. Park became acting first lady.

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