Pros­e­cu­tors de­tain Park’s con­fi­dante

> Woman at cen­tre of South Korean po­lit­i­cal cri­sis deemed a flight risk

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: The woman at the cen­tre of the snow­balling po­lit­i­cal scan­dal en­gulf­ing Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye has been put un­der emer­gency de­ten­tion af­ter pros­e­cu­tors said she was “un­sta­ble” and a flight risk.

Choi Soon-Sil ( pix), who faces al­le­ga­tions of fraud and med­dling in state af­fairs over her decades-long friend­ship with Park, was grilled for hours Mon­day af­ter she re­turned to the coun­try and handed her­self in fol­low­ing street protests.

“There is a pos­si­bil­ity of Choi try­ing to de­stroy ev­i­dence as she is deny­ing all the al­le­ga­tions,” a pros­e­cu­tion of­fi­cial told the Yonhap news agency, ex­plain­ing the de­ci­sion to hold her for 48 hours.

“She has fled over­seas in the past, and she doesn’t have a per­ma­nent ad­dress in this coun­try, mak­ing her a flight risk.

“She is also in an ex­tremely un­sta­ble psy­cho­log­i­cal state.”

The me­dia has por­trayed the 60-year-old Choi as a Rasputin-like fig­ure, who wielded an un­healthy in­flu­ence over Park and in­ter­fered in gov­ern­ment pol­icy de­spite hold­ing no of­fi­cial post and hav­ing no se­cu­rity clear­ance.

She flew back to Seoul on Sun­day from Ger­many and was mobbed by hun­dreds of jour­nal­ists and an­gry pro­test­ers wav­ing plac­ards de­mand­ing her ar­rest.

Dressed from head to toe in black, Choi lost her hat, sun­glasses and one Prada shoe as she strug­gled through the scrum to the Seoul District Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice on Mon­day.

“Please for­give me. I have com­mit­ted a deadly sin,” Choi said af­ter she made it in­side the build­ing, Yonhap re­ported.

Af­ter a night in de­ten­tion, she was es­corted back to the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice early yes­ter­day wear­ing prison uni­form for an­other round of ques­tion­ing – which could last for days, Yonhap said.

Pros­e­cu­tors have to de­cide whether to seek a war­rant to for­mally ar­rest Choi be­fore the emer­gency de­ten­tion pe­riod ex­pires.

Al­though Choi was be­ing ques­tioned at an­other lo­ca­tion, a man used a heavy con­struc­tion ex­ca­va­tor to smash the front en­trance of the Supreme Pros­e­cu­tors’ Of­fice build­ing in Seoul yes­ter­day, in­jur­ing a se­cu­rity guard, in an ap­par­ent act of protest against Choi.

Ac­cord­ing to Han Je­ung-sub, a se­nior of­fi­cial at the Seo­cho po­lice sta­tion, the 45year-old man told po­lice: “Choi Soon-sil said she had com­mit­ted a crime she de­serves to die for, so I came here to help her die.”

Park car­ried out a par­tial reshuf­fle of her key aides on Sun­day and is con­sid­er­ing calls to form a neu­tral multi-party cabi­net to re­store pub­lic trust.

An­a­lysts say the scan­dal could paral­yse Park’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, un­der­lin­ing her lame-duck sta­tus ahead of pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in De­cem­ber next year. – Agen­cies

Po­lice­men in­spect an ex­ca­va­tor af­ter its driver rammed the en­trance of the Supreme Pros­e­cu­tors’ Of­fice in Seoul yes­ter­day.

AFPPIX

This un­dated pic­ture re­leased by KCNA on March 28 shows Kim and Ri (left) in­spect­ing the newly built Mi­rae Shop in Py­ongyang.

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