S Korea president Park Geun-hye ‘had role’ in scandal


South Koria : South Korean President Park Geun-hye had a “considerable” role in a corruption scandal involving a close confidante, prosecutors have said.

Speaking after confidante Choi Soon-sil and two aides were charged, Chief Prosecutor Lee Young-ryeol said Ms Park was “involved as a conspirator” but was immune from prosecution.

Ms Park has faced huge protests and opponents have urged her to quit.

Mr Lee said she would be questioned soon.

Ms Park, whose approval rating has dropped to 5%, has apologised twice on national television but has so far resisted calls to resign.

Her office had no comment on Sunday. She has previously pledged to cooperate in the investigation but resisted prosecutors’ plans to question her last week, Reuters reported.

South Korea’s parliament has approved a bill to appoint a special prosecutor, who will take over the case from state prosecutors.

South Koreans have reacted angrily to the revelations. The country has witnessed the largest protests since the pro-democracy demonstrations of the 1980s.

Organisers said as many as 500,000 people attended a candlelit rally in the capital this weekend, which brought streets to a standstill for the fourth consecutive Saturday. Police put the figure far lower.

Ms Park is facing growing calls to resign over the scandal. Opposition figures may attempt to impeach her if she refuses to resign in order to protect her immunity.

Ms Choi is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies, and suspected of using her friendship with Ms Park to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.

Also indicted was Ahn Jong-beom, Ms Park’s former senior secretary for policy coordination. Mr Ahn was charged with abuse of authority, coercion and attempted coercion.

The second aide to be charged was Jung Ho-sung, accused of passing classified presidential documents to Ms Choi, including information on ministerial candidates.