Ex-President Park Geun-hye indicted in corruption probe

Frederick Owens
April 19, 2017

South Korean prosecutors have formally charged Park Geun-hye over high-profile corruption allegations that could potentially send the former president to jail for life.

The former leader, already detained at a centre near Seoul, also faces charges of abusing her powers and leaking state secrets, Seoul prosecutors probing the scandal said in a statement.

— 1990: Park resigns as chairwoman of a children's foundation over suspicions that she allowed her mentor, Choi Tae-min, and his daughter, Choi Soon-sil, to manipulate it for personal gains. The heir to Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, has already been indicted and is awaiting a separate criminal trial over charges that Ms Park was given bribes in exchange for government backing of a 2015 merger.

The prosecutor's office in Seoul's central district also filed charges against ex-presidential aide Woo Byung-woo and Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin over allegations tied to Ms Park's case.

The $US52 million they were accused of collecting or demanding in bribes from businesses included $US38 million in bribes or promised bribes from Samsung.

Former President Park Geun-hye became the third South Korean president to stand trial on criminal charges extending to 18 including bribery.

If found guilty, Park could spend the rest of her life in prison. Park has been questioned nearly half-a-dozen times for these charges since her detainment.

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Park was taken into custody on March 31 after the Constitutional Court chose to uphold parliament's impeachment of South Korea's 11th president in an influence-peddling scandal. It is expected to start within weeks and could take up to six months.

Park is accused of colluding with Choi and offering policy favours to top businessmen who enriched her friend.

Still, the AP reports it's unclear whether that trial will kick off prior to the May 9 special election that will decide South Korea's next president.

Park's scandal triggered huge political turmoil in South Korea, with millions taking to the streets to call for her to go for months before her supporters launched their own protests.

In its indictment of Park on Monday, the prosecution added new charges of soliciting bribes from Lotte and SK groups. Prosecutors stated [Reuters report] that Lotte paid approximately $6 million U.S. to Park for a wide variety of favors after experiencing operational turbulence at their locations in China.

Park is also charged with abusing her authority to help Choi's business interests, exclude artists critical of Park from state budget and sack government officials uncooperative with her wrongdoings.

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