South Korean ex-president jailed over corruption

"So far, the de facto leader of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, has been charged for giving money to Choi's organizations, but with the investigation spurred on by Park's arrest, some other big business leaders now fear the same fate as him".

Waving the national flag, the USA stars and stripes and shouting military-style slogans, tens of thousands of supporters of arrested former South Korean President Park Geun-hye rallied Saturday for her to be released from detention on corruption allegations. Ashen-faced and flanked by two female officers in the back seat of a black sedan, Park's hair was down, apparently because she had removed the hairpins that held her hair in her trademark chignon style.

"Traitor Park was. thrown into a solitary cell in a prisoner uniform", the state KCNA news agency said, adding her detention was "welcomed" by South Korean media and a "majority of the people". The former head-of-state could face 10 years in prison if she is convicted of receiving bribes from the conglomerates' bosses.

The Seoul Central District Court accepted that her arrest is necessary to "hedge the risk of Park fleeing or destroying evidence". "She and Choi, who is already in custody and on trial, deny any wrongdoing".

Ahead of Thursday's hearing, prosecutors submitted around 120,000 pages of documents to the Seoul Central District Court, and said it would be "counter to the principle of fairness" if Park were not arrested. In order to minimize the political effect on the presidential election, Prosecutors are reportedly very likely to file charges against Park before April 17, which marks the beginning of the official election period.

The December 2015 agreement saw Park and Abe clinch a "final and irreversible" deal to settle the thorny issue, with Tokyo offering ¥1 billion ($8.7 million at today's exchange rate) to help Seoul set up a foundation for the surviving 46 former comfort women in South Korea. Prosecutors have identified 13 charges that could be leveled against her, including bribery, abuse of power and leaking confidential information. She denies all charges. "Major allegations were explained and proved and there were concerns over evidence destruction", the court said. As she left for the hearing, hundreds of her supporters, many of them elderly citizens, gathered at her private Seoul home. The prosecution said it will not question Park Friday, her first day of detention, and speculation is high that the grilling will begin next week.

But Park's own Liberty Korea party - which has changed its name in an effort to distance itself from her - called the move "regrettable". Lee, accused of misappropriating corporate funds to make the contributions, is also detained while being tried at court.

The daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee who ruled in the post Korean-war era from 1960 until his assassination in 1979, Park polled well among older voters who remember her father as a hero.

  • Leroy Wright