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South Korean prosecutors said on Monday they are seeking an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye for a more thorough investigation into the massive corruption and influence-peddling that led to her ouster.
Prosecutors cited concerns that Ms Park may try to tamper with evidence of her involvement in the scandal, which led to her impeachment earlier this month after it emerged that she and her adviser Choi Soon-sil had elicited millions of dollars from dozens of Korean companies and that Ms Park allowed Ms Choi to extensively meddle in state affairs.
Ms Park faces charges of bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets. Ms Park denied most of the charges in a marathon grilling by prosecutors over the allegations last week.
“The issues are grave as the defendant has abused her status and power to elicit funds from companies, infringe on management freedom and leak state secrets,” said the prosecutors in charge of the investigation. “Much evidence has been collected but the defendant denies most of the charges, so there are concerns that she may try to get rid of the evidence in the future.”
If the arrest warrant is issued by the court, Ms Park will become the country’s third former president to be arrested on criminal charges, following former military dictators Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo.
Prosecutors added that it would be unfair not to arrest Ms Park, as most of her accomplices – including Choi Soon-sil, who followed her orders – had all been arrested and are standing trial on similar charges.