South Korean prosecutors will summon former president Park Geun-Hye, whose impeachment was confirmed by the country’s highest court last week, for questioning as a criminal suspect, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Park has been named as an accomplice to the secret confidante at the heart of a corruption and influence-peddling scandal that triggered her dramatic downfall. Confirmation of her impeachment by the nation’s top court stripped her of immunity from criminal prosecution.
“We will decide Wednesday when to summon former president Park and inform her,” the spokesman of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office told AFP.
It has not yet been decided whether Park will be called in to the prosecutors’ office in private, or publicly before TV cameras and photographers, he added.
The country’s top court last week fired Park over a corruption scandal.
Her friend and secret confidante, Choi Soon-Sil, is standing trial for using her ties to Park to force local firms to “donate” nearly $70 million to non-profit foundations Choi allegedly used for personal gain.
Park is accused of offering policy favors to businessmen who paid Choi, including the heir to the smartphone giant Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, who has been indicted for bribery and other offences.
As president, Park refused to make herself available for questioning to special prosecutors investigating the scandal, despite multiple requests.
Similarly the Constitutional Court asked her to appear before it as it held a series of hearings while considering whether to confirm or overturn her impeachment by parliament, but she did not do so.
South Korean media and politicians have accused Park of defiance after told supporters on her return to her private residence — following staying on in the presidential Blue House complex for several days — that “the truth will eventually be revealed”.
She has been holed up in her high-walled house in southern Seoul, with hundreds of her diehard supporters staging sit-ins and vowing to “protect our president” from any harm.
Clashes are expected if prosecution authorities try to force their way through the crowd surrounding the building to deliver the summons.