Park Geun Hye's friend Choi Soon Sil to be transferred to different detention centre

Choi Soon Sil (centre) arrives for hearing arguments for South Korean President Park Geun Hye's impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court in Seoul on Jan 16, 2017.
Choi Soon Sil (centre) arrives for hearing arguments for South Korean President Park Geun Hye's impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court in Seoul on Jan 16, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - A long-time friend of ousted South Korean President Park Geun Hye is to be transferred to a different location to prevent her from coming into contact with the detained leader, a prosecution official said on Wednesday (April 5).

Choi Soon Sil, the friend at the centre of a corruption scandal that removed Park from power, is accused of conspiring with her to pressure big businesses to contribute funds to foundations controlled by Choi and take bribes from the giant Samsung Group in exchange for favours.

Park and Choi are now locked in the women's ward at the Seoul Detention Centre in the South Korean capital, but Choi will be moved to a different location.

"It (her transfer) will happen this week...The women's block at the Seoul Detention Center is not big. Apparently the detention centre is having difficulties to control," a prosecution official told reporters.

Park is being held in detention for up to 20 days while she is investigated and possibly indicted on charges that could imprison her for at least 10 years.

Others at the site include Samsung scion Jay Y. Lee, who is accused of giving bribes to Park for corporate favours, as well as top presidential aides who have been charged or implicated in the scandal.

Park, Choi and Lee have denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have said they interrogated Park in the detention centre on Tuesday rather than summoning her, at her lawyer's request, taking into consideration her security and mental condition.

She is spending her time in a single cell that is slightly more spacious than others.

Park will have another interrogation session at the centre on Thursday, the prosecution official added.