Woman in South Korea po­lit­i­cal scan­dal held

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

The woman at the cen­tre of a po­lit­i­cal scan­dal threat­en­ing South Korea’s pres­i­dent has been de­tained. Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye, is ac­cused of in­flu­ence ped­dling and in­ter­fer­ing in state af­fairs. Pros­e­cu­tors have 48 hours since her de­ten­tion on Mon­day to de­cide if they will for­mally ar­rest her. On Mon­day, eight banks were raided in con­nec­tion with the scan­dal, South Korean me­dia re­ported. The Yonhap news agency said the au­thor­i­ties were look­ing to con­fis­cate doc­u­ments re­lated to Ms Choi’s fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tion. Ms Choi has been ac­cused of em­bez­zling money and of pres­sur­ing com­pa­nies to do­nate to foun­da­tions she ben­e­fit­ted from, on the ba­sis of her close­ness to the pres­i­dent. She also stands ac­cused of in­volve­ment in high-level pres­i­den­tial de­ci­sion mak­ing, de­spite lack­ing the se­cu­rity clear­ance re­quired to han­dle clas­si­fied doc­u­ments. She was placed un­der emer­gency de­ten­tion late on Mon­day with pros­e­cu­tors say­ing they feared she may de­stroy ev­i­dence. “She has fled over­seas in the past, and she doesn’t have a per­ma­nent ad­dress in Korea, mak­ing her a flight risk,” a pros­e­cu­tion of­fi­cial told Yonhap. “She is also in an ex­tremely un­sta­ble psy­cho­log­i­cal state.” Ms Choi had told re­porters on Mon­day that she “com­mit­ted a sin that de­serves death”. Yes­ter­day morn­ing, a 45year-old man who said he wanted to “help Choi Soon-sil die” drove a con­struc­tion ve­hi­cle into the Seoul Cen­tral Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors’ of­fice. Ms Choi was not in­side the build­ing, but a se­cu­rity guard was in­jured in the at­tack and the build­ing was dam­aged. Last week, Ms Park pub­licly apol­o­gised, ad­mit­ting “cer­tain doc­u­ments” had been shared with Ms Choi and she had been al­lowed to edit po­lit­i­cal speeches. “Choi ad­vised me on expressions in my speeches and pub­lic re­la­tions dur­ing the last pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and she con­tin­ued to help me for a cer­tain pe­riod of time af­ter I took of­fice,” Ms Park said. “I deeply apol­o­gise to the peo­ple”, she said, be­fore bow­ing to the cam­era. That did lit­tle to sup­press pub­lic anger and about 8,000 peo­ple protested on Satur­day, some call­ing for Ms Park’s res­ig­na­tion.

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