'Prez Park was an accomplice in scandal'

Lee Young-ryeol announces result of the interim probe into the presidential scandal, at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Pic/AFP
Lee Young-ryeol announces result of the interim probe into the presidential scandal, at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Pic/AFP

Seoul: South Korean prosecutors said yesterday that they believed President Park Geun-hye was an accomplice in a corruption scandal that has rocked her administration, in a heavy blow to her fight for political survival. The prosecutors’ comments, which came as they indicted a close friend of Park’s and two of her former aides, are likely to spur stronger calls for her to step down or be impeached.

Park’s close friend Choi Soon-sil and former presidential aide An Chong-bum were charged with abuse of power by pressuring companies to contribute funds to foundations at the centre of the scandal, said Lee Young-ryeol, head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. “The special investigation team concluded that based on the evidence secured to date, the president was in complicity with Choi Soon-sil, An Chong-bum and Jeong Ho-seong to a considerable degree.”

Park’s lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha rejected the assertion that she was involved, calling it an “imagination” and saying prosecutors “have built a house of fantasy”.

Park cannot be indicted because she has constitutional immunity, prosecutor Lee said, but added: “We will continue to investigate the president,” without elaborating.

Yeong-ha also said in a statement that Park will not make herself available for questioning by prosecutors.

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