South Korean court to decide on Park's arrest

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, March 30 (IANS) South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye on Thursday appeared in a court that will decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for her over a corruption scandal that led to her impeachment, a media report said.

Scores of supporters, mostly elderly voters, waved national flags outside Park's home, chanting their opposition to her arrest. Some lawmakers and former presidential secretaries visited her before she left for the Seoul Central District Court, Xinhua news agency reported.

If the warrant is approved, Park would become the third South Korean former President to be taken into custody. The decision is forecast to be made late Thursday or early Friday.

Park denied most of her criminal charges including bribery, abuse of authority, extortion and the disclosure of confidential documents. A total of 13 charges were levied by prosecutors against her.

The former President is accused of colluding with her decades-long friend Choi Soon-sil, who is now in custody, to receive tens of millions of US dollars in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong who is also arrested.

The bribes were offered in return for getting assistance in the transfer of management control of Samsung Group to Vice Chairman Lee from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

The younger Lee, an heir apparent of the country's biggest family-controlled conglomerate, has effectively taken the helm of Samsung since Chairman Lee was hospitalised for heart attack about three years ago.

Choi is charged with extorting tens of millions of dollars from scores of conglomerates to establish two non profit foundations she used for personal gains. Prosecutors already branded Park and Choi as criminal accomplices.

Choi, at the centre of the influence-peddling scandal, is also suspected of receiving secret government documents from one of Park's former secretaries on a regular basis to meddle in state affairs from the shadows.