03/31/2017, 10.06
SOUTH KOREA
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Former President Park arrested for corruption

The decision by the Seoul Court after nine hours of hearing. Park is accused of corruption, abuse of authority and revelation of state secrets. She denies any wrongdoing. She is the third president to be imprisoned and risks a sentence of 10 years.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Former president Park Geun-hye was arrested today on charges of corruption in a scandal that has also forced her to resign from office.

Park, 65, the first female president of South Korea and the first president to face impeachment, is accused of corruption, abuse of authority and revelation of state secrets. The decision for her arrest was taken yesterday by Seoul Central Court after a hearing lasting nine hours.

After a long interrogation, Park last night has left the court and did not speak to reporters.

Prosecutors accuse the Park of having worked with her friend Choi Soon-sil to force dozens of companies to make "donations" to two foundations controlled by Choi for a total of 77.4 billion won (about 70 million US dollars) .

Lee Jae-yong,, the head of Samsung was also arrested for having given or promised 43.4 billion won to Choi and Park in exchange for favors related to the restructuring of his companies. Of the total, 20.4 billion won went to the two foundations.

If the Park is found guilty in the trial, she could be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. She is also accused of putting more than 9 thousand artists, writers, filmmakers and personalities of culture on a blacklist prohibiting government agencies from subsidizing them just because they were critical of her policies.

Park would also dismissed employees of the Ministry of Culture that were resistant to her action against those blacklisted.

Finally, she is accused of having intervened in the administrations of several companies - including Hyundai Motor, POSCO and KT - putting pressure on them to sign contracts with Choi’s companies. For her part, Park denies all these charges.

Park, who was elected in 2012, is the third South Korean president to be imprisoned.

Two former presidents, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, both former generals were sentenced in 1996, the first to life imprisonment and the second to 17 years in prison for treason and corruption. They were later pardoned in 1997.

Chun and Roh had organized a coup that brought Chun to power eight years after the death of Park Chung-hee, the father of Park Geun-hye.

Roh was elected in 1988 after the Chun government, under pressure from a powerful democratic movement, agreed to free elections.

In April 2009, former liberal president Roh Moo-hyun was accused of corruption, but the trial never began because Roh committed suicide a month later.

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