Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Ex-president jailed over corruption allegations

Published:Friday | March 31, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye

SEOUL (AP):

South Korea's disgraced former President Park Geun-hye was arrested and jailed on Friday over high-profile corruption allegations that already ended her tumultuous four-year rule and prompted an election to find her successor.

Prosecutors can detain her for up to 20 days before formally charging her, meaning she will likely be in jail while her case is heard. A district court normally issues a ruling within six months of an indictment.

The Seoul court's decision is yet another humiliating fall for Park, South Korea's first female president who was elected in 2012 amid overwhelming support from conservatives who recall her dictator father as a hero who lifted the country from poverty in the 1960-70s despite a record of severe human rights abuses.

Prosecutors accuse Park of colluding with a confidante to extort big businesses, take a bribe from one of the companies and commit other wrongdoing. The allegations led millions of South Koreans to protest in the streets every weekend for months before lawmakers impeached her in December and the Constitutional Court ruled in March to formally remove her from office.

It made Park the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office since democracy came here in the late 1980s. South Korea will hold an election in May to choose Park's successor. Opinion surveys say liberal opposition leader Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2012 election to Park, is the favourite.

Prosecutors can charge Park without arresting her, but they wanted to arrest her because the allegations against her are "grave" and because other suspects involved the scandal, including her confidante, Choi Soo-si, and Samsung heir, Lee Jae-yong, have already been arrested.

The Seoul court said it decided to approve Park's arrest because it believes key allegations against her were confirmed and there were worries that she may try to destroy evidence.