You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Park Geun-hye, ousted president of South Korea, expected to be formally indicted


Highlights

If she is convicted of bribery, Park, 65, could face 10 years to life in prison, although her successor has the power to free her with a special presidential pardon.

South Korea’s recently impeached and ousted president, Park Geun-hye, was expected to be formally indicted today, becoming the first leader put on criminal trial since the mid-1990s, when two former military-backed presidents were imprisoned for corruption and mutiny. 

 Prosecutors arrested Park on bribery and a dozen other criminal charges in March. They have visited her at her prison cell outside Seoul five times to question her as part of their efforts to strengthen their case against her. 

 Her indictment Monday, a widely expected follow-up to her arrest, will prompt the Seoul Central District Court to open a trial. The court is expected to assign her case to a three-judge panel soon. 

 The judges will then set the date for the first hearing in what will become the biggest court trial since the former military dictator Chun Doo-hwan was sentenced to death and his friend and successor, Roh Tae-woo, was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison on bribery, mutiny and sedition charges in 1996. (Their sentences were later reduced, and they were pardoned and released in 1997.) 

 Months of political turmoil and intrigue, set into motion when huge crowds began gathering in central Seoul last fall to demand Park’s resignation, were capped by a Constitutional Court ruling in early March that formally removed her from office. 

 The National Assembly had voted in December to impeach her on charges of bribery, extortion and abuse of power. 

 The sprawling corruption scandal implicated the leadership of Samsung, the nation’s largest conglomerate, and other big businesses, rekindling public furor over decades-old ties between government and big businesses in one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies. 

 Park was accused of conspiring with a longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to coerce big businesses to make donations worth tens of millions of dollars to two foundations controlled by Choi. 

 The two were also charged with collecting $38 million in bribes or promised bribes from Samsung. Choi and Samsung’s top executive, Lee Jae-yong, were also under arrest and on trial. 

 In his trial that began last month, Lee, the third-generation scion of the family that runs the conglomerate and the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, has vehemently denied the bribery and other charges against him, saying he sought no favor from Park’s government in return for the money Samsung admitted contributing to support Choi’s foundations and her daughter. 

 Prosecutors said that what the company called “donations” were bribes used to win government support for the contentious 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, which they say helped Lee cement control of the conglomerate. 

 Park, too, has denied the charges against her, arguing that she was victimized by her political enemies. 

 The removal and arrest of Park, an icon of the conservative establishment, have been a crushing blow to that camp. 

 Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo, leading contenders in the election next month to select Park’s successor, were both opposition politicians and vocal critics of her four-year rule, which they said symbolized a government that served the privileged rather than the common good and that continued corrupt ties with big businesses. Two conservative candidates are polling in the single digits in pre-election surveys. 

 Park’s downfall and the presidential election in South Korea also have the potential to rattle the delicate balance of international diplomacy in Asia at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea. 

 Both Moon and Ahn criticized the hard-line North Korean policy of Park’s government and Washington. They said sanctions and pressure alone have failed to stop the North’s nuclear and missile programs and that it was time to try dialogue.  

Park is the daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee, who seized power in a coup in 1961 and ruled South Korea with martial law and arbitrary arrests and torture of dissidents before he was assassinated by his spy chief in 1979.  

Park Geun-hye was the first leader of South Korea to be forced from office in response to popular pressure since the founding president, Syngman Rhee, fled into exile in Hawaii in 1960 after protests against his corrupt, authoritarian rule.  

If she is convicted of bribery, Park, 65, could face 10 years to life in prison, although her successor has the power to free her with a special presidential pardon.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Business was booming at Mar-a-Lago. Then Trump became president
Business was booming at Mar-a-Lago. Then Trump became president

For eight straight years, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society held its Palm Beach fundraiser gala at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club. But then Trump became president. And, at this year's gala, his security put a damper on the silent auction. "We allow for a cocktail hour — an hour and a half, really [during the silent auction]. And we want people...
White House frustration grows with Tillerson over jobs for Trump allies
White House frustration grows with Tillerson over jobs for Trump allies

The White House is becoming increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a close-knit circle of aides over the slow pace of hiring and a chokehold on information and access to Tillerson, according to senior Trump administration officials and others familiar with the rift. Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil chief executive with no...
HELP WANTED: City manager search leaves several top city jobs in limbo
HELP WANTED: City manager search leaves several top city jobs in limbo

As Austin nears a full year since former City Manager Marc Ott left for a job in Washington, D.C., the lack of an official replacement has led to a pileup of vacancies in City Hall’s most senior positions. It has led to more than a quarter of the city’s top executive positions — department heads, assistant city managers and the police...
Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault
Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from...
Will Georgia's 6th District do this all again in 2018?
Will Georgia's 6th District do this all again in 2018?

Despite initial relief among Georgia's 6th District residents that the barrage of campaign ads has come to an end, the reprieve might not last too long. "Now we know what New Hampshire looks like," said Chip Lake, a GOP consultant based in Georgia. The question is, with 2018 just around the corner, will this year's astronomical spending,...
More Stories