Deposed South Korean president arrested, jailed after long saga

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye (C) leaves the prosecutors' office as she is transferred to a detention house in Seoul, South Korea March 31, 2017.

Prosecutors allege Park blacklisted cultural figures she thought were critical of her policies and prohibited government agencies from financially supporting them.

Prosecutors allege that Choi used her friendship with the president to extract $70 million in bribes from conglomerates as kickbacks for business favors, and that the former president colluded in the scheme.

Three people died amid violent clashes between Park's supporters and police on March 10 after the Constitutional Court chose to remove her from office.

Park had been held in a temporary detention facility at the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office Building ahead of the court's decision.

Choi is already on trial for forcing top local firms including the tech giant to "donate" almost $70 million to non-profit foundations which she allegedly used for personal gain, while Lee has been indicted for bribery and other offences.

Park burst into tears as guards showed her to her cell, TV Chosun said, quoting unidentified sources.

Prosecutors said on Monday that Park was accused of soliciting companies for money and infringing upon the freedom of corporate management by using her power as the president.

PARK GEUN-HYE has had a tough ten days: 14 hours of interrogation by prosecutors, followed by another nine spent in a local court yesterday.

The court ruled that Park represents a flight risk and said that she should be detained. But, following a meteoric political career, she returned after winning the presidency in December 2012, thanks to overwhelming support from older voters who remembered her father as a hero who rescued the nation from poverty, despite his brutal record of civilian oppression.

Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-Yong, who was arrested last month in connection to the scandal, was in court for over seven hours for his hearing, and his detention was approved early the following day.

Because official campaigning for the presidential election begins April 17, the prosecution is expected to indict Park before then, to minimize the case's impact on the election.

The chest of Park's uniform was emblazoned with her prison number - 503 - by which she will be known during her incarceration. She denies the accusations against her, which includes taking a multi-million dollar bribe from South Korean technology giant, Samsung.

Former presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, both previously army generals, received a life sentence and a 17-year prison term, respectively, in 1996 on charges including treason and bribery.

Park has denied all allegations, although her arrest has been long anticipated since she was impeached and removed from office on March 10.

  • Leroy Wright