Park to be questioned as criminal suspect

SEOUL • South Korean prosecutors will summon former president Park Geun Hye, whose impeachment was confirmed by the country's highest court last week, for questioning as a criminal suspect.

Ms Park has been named as an accomplice to the secret confidante at the heart of a corruption and influence-peddling scandal that triggered her dramatic downfall.

Confirmation of her impeachment by the nation's top court stripped her of immunity from criminal prosecution.

"We will decide on Wednesday when to summon former president Park and inform her," the spokesman of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office said yesterday.

It has not yet been decided whether Ms Park will be called in to the prosecutors' office in private, or publicly before TV cameras and photographers, he added.

 

Ms Park's friend and secret confidante Choi Soon Sil is standing trial for using her ties to the former leader to force local firms to "donate" nearly US$70 million (S$99 million) to non-profit foundations Choi allegedly used for personal gain.

Ms Park is accused of offering policy favours to businessmen who paid Choi, including the heir to smartphone giant Samsung, Lee Jae Yong, who has been indicted for bribery and other offences.

Separately, howls of outrage erupted on social media yesterday over the fate of Ms Park's nine Jindo dogs - a Korean hunting breed renowned for its loyalty - which she left behind when she exited her palace on Sunday after the impeachment.

When Ms Park took office in February 2013, she moved into the Blue House with two puppies named Saerom and Heemang - "New" and "Hope" respectively in Korean - given to her by her former neighbours.

The dogs became instant stars, with Ms Park regularly posting photos of herself cuddling her four-legged family on her Facebook page. The pooches have since had two litters, the latest, of seven puppies, born only in January.

A presidential spokesman confirmed that the dogs were being looked after by Blue House staff for the time being - and would be found new homes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Park to be questioned as criminal suspect'. Print Edition | Subscribe