Prosecutors to question South Korean president over political scandal

Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:34am EST
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean prosecutors will question President Park Geun-hye over a political corruption scandal engulfing her presidency, an official said on Sunday, the first time a sitting president will be questioned by prosecutors over a criminal case.

Hundreds of thousands marched in the capital Seoul on Saturday demanding Park resign. Many protesters said Park, whose public support has dropped to the lowest point ever for a democratically elected South Korean leader at 5 percent, was unfit to rule.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Park exerted improper pressure on "chaebol" conglomerate bosses to raise funds for two foundations at the center of an influence-peddling scandal involving a friend of hers, Yonhap reported on Sunday, citing prosecution sources.

They are also probing Park's friend, Choi Soon-sil, who is alleged to have used her ties to the president to meddle in state affairs and wield influence in the cultural and sports communities, a prosecutor has previously said.

Prosecutors have already questioned the de facto head of Samsung Group SAGR.UL Jay Y. Lee and the chairmen of Hyundai Motor Group (005380.KS: Quote) and Hanjin Group HANJ.UL over the scandal, media reports said on Sunday.

"It's correct we're planning to question the president but the date is undecided," an official at the prosecutors' office told Reuters.

Yonhap news agency quoted a prosecution official as saying Park's questioning should be done no later than Wednesday.

"Questioning people face-to-face is our principle," the official said. Park will appear before prosecutors as a witness, Yonhap reported.   Continued...

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Ed Jones/Pool