South Korea’s ousted leader apologizes, promises cooperation in graft investigation

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologized to the country on Tuesday (March 21) as she arrived at the prosecutors’ offices for questioning as a criminal suspect in a widening corruption investigation that has already cost her the presidency.

Park, 65, became the first democratically elected leader to be removed from office when on March 10 the Constitutional Court upheld her December impeachment by parliament.

She has been accused of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations that backed her policy initiatives. Park has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged in the case.

But she lost her presidential immunity when she was dismissed and could face more than 10 years in jail if convicted of receiving bribes from bosses of big conglomerates, including Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee, in return for favors.

A prosecution official told reporters on Monday (March 20) the questioning was expected to go on late into the night.

South Korea will hold a presidential election on May 9.

(REUTERS)