April 5, 2017 / 9:05 AM / 6 months ago

Friend of South Korea's ousted Park to be transferred to different location

FILE PHOTO: Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the South Korean political scandal and long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, arrives for a hearing arguments for South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - A long-time friend of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye is to be transferred to a different location to prevent her from coming into contact with the detained leader, a prosecution official said on Wednesday.

Choi Soon-sil, the friend at the center of a corruption scandal that removed Park from power, is accused of conspiring with her to pressure big businesses to contribute funds to foundations controlled by Choi and take bribes from the giant Samsung Group in exchange for favors.

Park and Choi are now locked in the women’s ward at the Seoul Detention Center in the South Korean capital, but Choi will be moved to a different location.

“It (her transfer) will happen this week...The women’s block at the Seoul Detention Center is not big. Apparently the detention center is having difficulties to control,” a prosecution official told reporters.

Park is being held in detention for up to 20 days while she is investigated and possibly indicted on charges that could imprison her for at least 10 years.

Others at the site include Samsung scion Jay Y.Lee, who is accused of giving bribes to Park for corporate favors, as well as top presidential aides who have been charged or implicated in the scandal.

Park, Choi and Lee have denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have said they interrogated Park in the detention center on Tuesday rather than summoning her, at her lawyer’s request, taking into consideration her security and mental condition.

She is spending her time in a single cell that is slightly more spacious than others.

Park will have another interrogation session at the center on Thursday, the prosecution official added.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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