Prosecution requests president answer questions related to scandal by next Tuesday

November 23, 2016

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) — State prosecutors on Wednesday called on President Park Geun-hye to answer questions related to the corruption scandal involving her and a close friend next week, despite her attorney’s earlier refusal to face any criminal inquiry.

“We have sent our request to the president’s attorney that we want to question Park face-to-face by Nov. 29,” a senior prosecutor told reporters, declining to be named. “We are waiting for a reply.”

The request came three days after the prosecution implicated the embattled leader as an “accomplice” in a series of the alleged wrongdoings involving Choi Soon-sil and two former presidential secretaries.

Yoo Yeong-ha, Park’s attorney, dismissed the allegations against Park, saying they were a mixture of “imagination and conjecture.”

Yoo also said Park would not respond to any direct inquiry by the prosecution. Before the prosecution accused Park of being complicit in the scandal, she was set to answer questions this week.

The president is suspected of allowing her confidante Choi Soon-sil to gain unlawful access to presidential speeches and documents, some of which were classified as secret. She is also alleged to have played a role in pressuring local businesses into donating large sums of money to two nonprofit organizations.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has said the chief executive wants to dispel all “unfounded” speculation through due legal process, and raised doubts about the fairness of the ongoing probe.

Separate from the prosecutorial review, Park faces an independent counsel investigation into the scandal.

The law on the independent probe took effect on Tuesday. The counsel, to be appointed by the opposition parties, is expected to begin the investigation next month for a period of up to four months.

Meanwhile, prosecutors questioned several professors from Ewha Womans University on Wednesday over the allegations that Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Park’s friend Choi, received special favors in the admission process and for her academic records.

On the same day, prosecutors raided the offices of the school’s president and its division in charge of admissions.

This graphic, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows President Park Geun-hye and the prosecution offices in southern Seoul.

This graphic, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows President Park Geun-hye and the prosecution offices in southern Seoul.