December 25, 2016 / 6:19 AM / in 10 months

South Korea prosecutor says it might raid presidential office

South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks during an emergency cabinet meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, December 9, 2016. Yonhap/ via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s special prosecutor investigating a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye said on Sunday it was considering whether to raid the presidential offices and if it did so, it had no choice but to do so publicly.

Special prosecutors are investigating allegations that Park colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, and aides to pressure big companies to contribute to foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

“In case of raiding the Blue House ... to carry out that, there is no choice but to be make it public,” Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecutor’s team told reporters in a briefing, referring to the presidential offices.

“We are still considering whether the raid is needed and if needed what the raid should be aimed at.”

Park, whose father ruled the country for 18 years after seizing power in a 1961 coup, was indicted in a Dec. 9 parliamentary vote.

She has denied wrongdoing but apologized for carelessness in her ties with Choi, who is facing her own trial.

Prosecutors have said previously they needed access to the presidential offices as part of their investigation. The office has denied access.

Park has immunity from prosecution as long as she is in office even though her powers have been suspended since parliament voted to impeach her.

A large crowd of protesters, including about 200 young people dressed as Santa Claus, took to the streets of central Seoul on Saturday for the ninth weekend in a row to demand the immediate resignation of the president.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim, additional reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Robert Birsel

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