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South Korean prosecutors seek to arrest Park on graft allegations

Park Geun Hye.jpg
South Korean prosecutors sought to arrest former President Park Geun Hye over allegations that she abused her powers and colluded with her longtime friend and former aides to get bribes from the nation's top businesses.

[SEOUL] South Korean prosecutors sought to arrest former President Park Geun Hye over allegations that she abused her powers and colluded with her longtime friend and former aides to get bribes from the nation's top businesses.

Federal attorneys submitted a request at the Seoul Central District Court to issue an arrest warrant for Ms Park, prosecutors said in a text message on Monday. It's reasonable and lawful to detain her because there's a risk that she will destroy evidence since she continues to deny wrongdoing, they said.

Several associates of Ms Park are already on trial for their role in the scandal that brought down the nation's first female president. Prosecutors questioned Ms Park for 14 hours last Tuesday after she lost her presidential immunity following her ouster.

Ms Park risks becoming the third former South Korean president to be put behind bars. In the 1990s, Chun Doo Hwan was sentenced to death and Roh Tae Woo received a 22 1/2-year term after the pair were found guilty of creating slush funds and inciting a coup. Both were later pardoned.

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She is suspected of pressuring top business executives to donate tens of millions of dollars to foundations run by her friend Choi Soon Sil in return for government favours. Prosecutors also allege that she colluded with Ms Choi to seek bribes from Samsung Group's heir apparent Jay Y Lee in return for business favours. Ms Choi and Mr Lee are in detention as their trials proceed, and both deny wrongdoing.

,Ms Park "abused her presidential position and received bribes from companies", according to the text message. Prosecutors also allege that she infringed on the freedom of corporate management and leaked classified information.

In upholding the parliament's December decision to impeach her, South Korea's constitutional court said on March 10 that Ms Park abused her presidential powers for the personal gain of Ms Choi. An election for the next president is scheduled for May 9, with Ms Park's opponents leading in polls.

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