S. Korea's Park to appear in court to avoid arrest

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, March 28 (IANS) Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday decided to appear in a court here to avoid arrest, which is being sought by prosecutors over a corruption scandal embroiling her.

The prosecutors' office here tasked with the probe into the scandal said Park's legal team informed the prosecutors of the former President's decision to appear in the court on Thursday.

The court would decide whether to take Park into custody after studying evidence provided by prosecutors and testimonies offered by her.

Prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for Park on Monday for multiple charges including bribery, abuse of power and the leakage of state secrets.

The court's decision is expected to be made late Thursday or early Friday.

If the court decides to issue the warrant, Park would become the third South Korean former leader to be detained. Two former military strongmen were arrested in 1995 on charges of mutiny and corruption.

A total of 13 charges were levelled by both state and special prosecutors against Park. Prosecutors have branded Park as a criminal accomplice to her long time confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Park was charged with receiving tens of millions of US dollars in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who is now in custody, in return for offering assistance in Lee's inheritance of management control of Samsung Group from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

The younger Lee had effectively taken the helm of the country's biggest family-controlled conglomerate after his father was hospitalised with a heart attack almost three years ago.

Choi was accused of extorting tens of millions of dollars from scores of conglomerates to establish two non-profit foundations she used for personal gains.

One of Park's former secretaries, who is now detained, is suspected of providing secret government documents to Choi on a regular basis to enable her to meddle in state affairs behind the scenes.