South Korean Court Approves Arrest Warrant For Ousted Leader Park Geun-hye

South Korea's ousted president Park Geun-Hye was grilled for almost nine hours in court on March 30 as a judge deliberated whether she should be arrested over the corruption and abuse of power scandal that brought her down.

Rumors had long circulated in the Korean entertainment industry that Park, who was removed from office earlier this month, pressured Miky Lee, vice-chairwoman of CJ, to step down from the company in 2013.

She has been taken to the same detention center where Samsung's de facto head, Jay Y. Lee, is also being held in connection to the same corruption scandal. The arrest is meant to further investigate collusion allegations of Park and her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Judge Kang Bu-young of the Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant for her arrest, warning that if Park was not quickly taken into custody the former president might "destroy evidence".

The Constitutional Court's impeachment ruling stripped Park of her presidential immunity and cleared the way for prosecutors to seek her arrest.

Park, who is 65, was at the Seoul Central District Court for the nine-hour hearing on the arrest warrant, but declined to make any comment on her way in or out.

Choi is accused of extracting a total of $70 million from major businesses on the promise that they would get favorable treatment from Park's government.

His Democratic Party, the largest in parliament, drove the efforts to impeach Park in December.

Earlier in the day, she appeared in court to plead innocence.

Prosecutors had accused Park of forcing business into donating money to foundations under her control.

Two former presidents - the military dictators Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo - were arrested in 1995 on bribery charges. After Park was jailed, some said she deserved it while others expressed sympathy for their ex-leader. They have also been gathering outside the court, waving the South Korean flag (paywall).

If convicted of bribery, Park could face between 10 years and life in prison, although her successor has the power to free Park with a special presidential pardon.

1979: Park's father is assassinated by his disgruntled spy chief.

And now we go over to the National Assembly, to see how Korea's political parties are reacting to the news of Park Geun-hye's arrest. Park once described Choi as someone who helped her when she had "difficulties", an apparent reference to her parents' assassinations in the 1970s.

A South Korean court says it has approved the arrest of ex-President Park Geun-hye over corruption allegations.

  • Leroy Wright