Sina
Edition: CHINA ASIA USA EUROPE AFRICA
Home > Asia
Sunday, December 11, 2016, 17:02

South Korea prosecutors charge 2 ex-Park officials

By Reuters
South Korea prosecutors charge 2 ex-Park officials
Protesters wearing masks of South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye (R) and her long-time friend Choi Soon-Sil (L) march towards the presidential house during a rally demanding the arrest of the president in Seoul on Dec 10, 2016. (Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

SEOUL – South Korean prosecutors indicted a former senior presidential aide and a former vice culture minister as part of their investigation of a corruption scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment in parliament, media said on Sunday.

Friday's overwhelming parliamentary vote to remove Park from office puts her fate in the hands of a nine-judge Constitutional Court, which has 180 days to decide whether to uphold the motion.

Friday's overwhelming parliamentary vote to remove Park from office puts her fate in the hands of a nine-judge Constitutional Court, which has 180 days to decide whether to uphold the motion

Park's powers have been suspended and assumed by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who has ordered a high state of military alert for any attempt by rival North Korea to take advantage of the political turmoil.

South Korea's finance minister warned on Sunday that the impeachment could weigh on the economy if sentiment was undermined.

Park, whose father ruled the country for 18 years after seizing power in a military coup, has been accused of colluding with a friend and a former aide, both of whom prosecutors indicted earlier, to pressure big businesses to donate to foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

Park, who is serving a single five-year term ending in February 2018, has denied wrongdoing but apologized for carelessness in her ties with her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Prosecutors on Sunday again characterized Park as a co-conspirator, media reported, although she has immunity from prosecution as long as she remains in office.

They made a similar assertion on Nov 20.

If the Constitutional Court affirms the parliamentary vote, Park would become the first democratically elected leader of Asia's fourth-biggest economy to be forced from office.

"Amid so much global uncertainty, this political situation is further weighing on the economy and a downturn in sentiment could be another problem," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho told a news conference.

South Korea prosecutors charge 2 ex-Park officials
Protesters holding signs that read "Arrest Park Geun-hye" shout slogans as they march toward the presidential Blue House after a rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down in Seoul Dec 10, 2016. (Lee Jin-man / AP)

PROTESTS

The two former officials whose charges were reported by media on Sunday included a former senior economic aide, Cho Won-dong, accused of colluding with the president in trying to pressure a South Korean conglomerate, CJ Group, to dismiss a group vice chairman, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

Cho told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday he had found the arm-twisting wrong but he had to deliver the president's message to the conglomerate.

The chairman of food-to-entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, Sohn Kyung-shik, told a separate hearing that Cho had met him and asked the group to remove the vice chairman from her position.

The second newly charged person was a former vice culture minister, Kim Chong, indicted for suspected abuse of power and coercion for exerting influence over a state-run firm to make a contract with a sports management company controlled by the president's friend, Yonhap and other outlets reported.

Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman in the presidential Blue House declined to comment.

Latest News