Park Scandal Probe Extension Denied

A protester, whose sign reads “Impeachment”, attends a rally in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 25.A protester, whose sign reads “Impeachment”, attends a rally in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 25.

South Korean special prosecutors investigating impeached President Park Geun-hye were denied permission to extend their probe and question her in person on Monday amid a graft scandal that threatens to topple her from office.

The special prosecutor’s office will make its final indictments before its investigation into the scandal, which has engulfed the highest levels of politics and business in South Korea, closes on Tuesday, spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said, Reuters reported.

A Constitutional Court ruling on whether to uphold the impeachment, which would result in South Korea’s first democratically elected leader being thrown from office, is expected next month.

The office of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, acting as president since Park was impeached by parliament in December, said Hwang had rejected a request by prosecutors for a 30-day extension of their investigation.

“The special prosecutor’s office regrets that the in-person questioning of the president could not happen and is deeply disappointed by the outcome,” Lee said.

“The sticking point had been over the presidential office’s refusal to allow audio or video recordings of the questioning, resulting in a breakdown in negotiations last week. Prosecutors had sought to question Park as a suspect.”

The corruption scandal erupted last year over accusations that Park colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.

The scandal has led to weekly protests by tens of thousands of Koreans, not only those who want Park gone but also some who want to see her stay in power and blame North Korean agents for the political instability.


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