SEOUL: Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office earlier this month, was arrested today.
“Major crimes have been ascertained and there is a concern that the suspect might attempt to destroy evidence,” Judge Kang Bu-young said in a text message to reporters.
“The court recognizes the need, necessity and reasonableness of the suspect’s arrest.” Prosecutors announced Monday that they were seeking to arrest Park on charges relating to abuse of power, accepting bribes and leaking important information.
“The suspect abused the mighty power and position as President to take bribes from companies and infringed upon the freedom of corporate management and leaked important confidential official information,” the statement from the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office said.
Park had been held in a temporary detention facility at the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office Building ahead of the court’s decision. She was taken to Seoul Detention Center on Friday, the same location where her confidant Choi Soon-sil and some of the high-profile figures embroiled in the ongoing scandal, including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, have been detained.
Park has not yet been formally indicted, prosecutors said. Prosecutors can detain Park for up to 20 days before formally charging her. Park was removed from office on March 10, after South Korea’s Constitutional Court upheld a decision to impeach her for alleged corruption. The former President was accused of helping a confidant raise donations from companies for foundations she had set up.
The scandal dominated the headlines in South Korea and prompted mass protests when it emerged late last year. The controversy centered around Park’s friend and close adviser, Choi, who is alleged to have significant and inappropriate influence over Park. Choi is on trial for abuse of power and fraud.
The Constitutional Court’s impeachment ruling stripped Park of her presidential immunity and cleared the way for prosecutors to seek her arrest. A presidential election will be held on May 9 to choose a new leader.