Seoul, March 21 (IANS) Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday apologised to the people as she arrived at the prosecutors’ office to be questioned over corruption allegations that led to her impeachment by Parliament.
Park appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul around 9.30 a.m., as a suspect of various charges including bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leak of government secrets, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“I say sorry to the public,” she said as she arrived at the prosecution.
“I will faithfully go through the interrogation.”
Before the inquiry began, Park held a brief meeting with senior prosecutor Roh Seung-kwon.
The interrogation will not be recorded or videotaped as Park and her attorneys declined the procedure, according to her lawyer Son Bum-kyu.
Two of Park’s lawyers will take turns in accompanying her during the questioning, which watchers expect could continue past midnight.
The police tightened security around the prosecution office, mobilising some 2,000 officers nearby for contingencies. Access to the compound was restricted to officials and reporters who went through prior security checks.
Park’s supporters gathered near the complex and her private residence, chanting slogans, such as “Nullify the impeachment!”
Anti-Park protesters also gathered, demanding her arrest.
Prosecutors are expected to grill Park over multiple charges, including that local business groups donated huge sums of money to two foundations allegedly controlled by her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil in return for business favours.
Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group, was arrested and indicted over suspicions of giving bribes to Choi, and in effect to Park. He has been flatly denying the charges.
Park has so far effectively rejected undergoing a direct investigation, but the Constitutional Court’s decision to oust her earlier this month stripped her of the immunity that had protected her from criminal prosecution.
A number of former aides have been questioned and put on trial over their alleged involvement in the scandal.
Park is the country’s fourth former President to undergo questioning over criminal allegations, following Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan and the late Roh Moo-hyun.
Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide in 2009 amid an investigation into allegations that his family members accepted illicit funds.