’s dismissed president has been questioned by prosecutors in connection with a high-profile corruption scandal that culminated in her impeachment and removal from power.
Upon her arrival at the prosecutors’ office in Seoul on Tuesday, Park Geun-hye told reporters that she was “sorry to the people” and promised to cooperate with the investigations.
After about five hours of continued grilling, an official said that Park had been forthcoming. If Park agrees, the questioning could continue beyond midnight. Authorities have hinted at the possibility of her detention, adding however that she would go home at the end of the first questioning session.
While Park has apologized several times, she has denied receiving any money in the graft case.
It is not yet clear what charges Park is facing, but if convicted of receiving bribes from major business leaders, she could be sentenced to as many as 10 years.
The disgraced former president’s supporters turned out in their hundreds, initially converging on her residence in an affluent area in Seoul and later outside the prosecution office.
In December 2016, the parliament impeached Park over an influence-peddling scandal that involved her close friend Choi Soon-sil.
Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment and permanently removed her from office. That revoked her immunity from prosecution.
Supporters of South Korea’s ex-president Park Geun-hye wave national flags outside the prosecutors’ office in Seoul on March 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The scandal involved pressuring major businesses to donate to two foundations which belonged to the president’s confidante, Choi, who is currently in prison and being investigated.
She is accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars from Samsung in exchange for support of a merger deal. The heir to the business conglomerate, Lee Jae-yong, is being investigated in the case as well.
Park is also accused of giving Choi access to state information without proper clearance.
When the news
of the corruption scandal surfaced, millions of people spilled out into the streets to demand her ouster. Her supporters also staged rallies in Seoul and other cities. Following her ouster on March 10, the rallies turned violent and two of Park’s supporters were killed in clashes with police.