Lindsay Maizland · Monday, March 27, 2017, 1:44 pm
Prosecutors requested the warrant for Park Geun-hye on Monday.
Americans looking with confusion and shock at the state of our own political system may take solace in the madness happening in South Korea, one of our closest allies, where prosecutors just requested an arrest warrant for the country’s former president.
The bizarre political scandal surrounding former President Park Geun-hye started in late 2016 and ultimately resulted in Park’s impeachment and dismissal from her post earlier this month. It was the first time that a democratically elected president had been removed from office in South Korea.
Now Park might also be the first democratically elected South Korean leader to be put behind bars.
On Monday, prosecutors formally requested a warrant for Park’s arrest from the Seoul District Court on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Park denied the allegations. Her arrest depends on whether the court grants the warrant, a decision that is expected by the end of the week after the court holds a hearing on Thursday.
"The case is very grave as the suspect has demonstrated acts of abuse of power by making companies give money and infringing on the freedom of corporate management by using powerful position and authority as president," prosecutors said in a statement, according to the BBC.
After questioning Park for 14 hours last week, prosecutors warned that “there is a danger of her destroying incriminating evidence if she is not arrested.” Prosecutors have identified 13 charges against her, including bribery, abuse of power, and leaking confidential information.
The most serious charge is bribery, a crime punishable by “life in prison or a term for more than 10 years,” according to the Korea Herald, one of South Korea’s largest English newspapers.
When Park was still president, she was able to avoid questioning and refused investigators entry into her office because of immunity from prosecution granted to sitting South Korean presidents. But now that she has been impeached, she is considered a private citizen and is subject to questioning and arrest.