Only perks for Park if arrested - larger cell, toilet in adjacent room

South Korea's impeached president Park Geun Hye is arrested after eight hours of testimony. A Seoul judge approved her arrest on the basis she might destroy evidence.
A man demanding Ms Park's arrest is restrained during a protest near her home in Seoul yesterday. A court will rule tomorrow on a warrant seeking her arrest over alleged corruption.
A man demanding Ms Park's arrest is restrained during a protest near her home in Seoul yesterday. A court will rule tomorrow on a warrant seeking her arrest over alleged corruption.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SEOUL • If ousted South Korean president Park Geun Hye is arrested this week, she will be sent to a solitary cell where she will be expected to rise at 6.30am and go to bed by 9pm.

The only privilege she could have over other inmates will be slightly more space and a toilet and shower in an adjoining room, rather than within her cell, former correctional and prosecution officials said.

Ms Park moved out of the mammoth presidential Blue House just over two weeks ago, after the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment for conspiring with long-time friend Choi Soon Sil to raise millions of dollars for foundations from the country's conglomerates.

Ms Park and Choi both deny wrongdoing.

Ms Park is now in her private residence in an upscale Seoul neighbourhood, but a local court will rule tomorrow on a warrant seeking her arrest. If granted, the 65-year-old will be held in detention for 20 days while she is investigated and possibly indicted on charges that could imprison her for at least 10 years.

If arrested, as a former president, she will be assigned a cell that will be larger than the 6.56 sq m solitary units occupied by others accused of wrongdoing in the same scandal, including the head of the Samsung conglomerate Lee Jae Yong.

"I think Park would stay in a better facility," said Mr Kim Kyung Soo, a retired prosecutor who interrogated two former military presidents, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, after their arrests in 1995 for treason and bribery.

Ms Park will likely stay in a single cell in a remote building for security reasons, separated from other inmates, the former prosecutors and prison officials said, but will be subject to the same rules on everything from meals to room inspections.

That includes rising at about 6.30am and going to bed at around 9pm, and being allowed to watch TV during the day but only a single channel with pre-recorded shows authorised by the Justice Ministry.

Visitors are limited to one a day but inmates are allowed unlimited meeting time with their lawyers.

The Korea Correctional Service, which operates the country's prisons and detention centres, lists a rotating set of meals that provide 2,500 calories a day.

If tomorrow is her first day in detention, Ms Park will be served a simple lunch of rice with bean sprouts, kimchi, cabbage stew and seaweed that costs 1,443 won (S$1.80), officials said.

One other privilege she will have to give up if arrested will be getting her hair coiffed in the cropped chignon style that is her trademark.

Inmates have access to hairdressers inside but services are limited to cutting hair. Cosmetics at the detention centre are limited to the basics, like toner and lotion. Hair dye is also unavailable.

Choi and Samsung chief Lee, who is accused of giving bribes to Park for corporate favours, are being held at the Seoul Detention Centre, but officials there declined to comment on where Ms Park will be taken if she is arrested.

The centre is considered to be her most likely destination if the arrest warrant is issued.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2017, with the headline 'Only perks for Park if arrested - larger cell, toilet in adjacent room'. Print Edition | Subscribe