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South Korea: Choi Soon-sil Detained Without Warrant


Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of a political scandal threatening South Korean President Park Geun-hye, has been detained.

The woman, a long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, is accused of influence peddling and interfering in state affairs.

Prosecutors have 48 hours since Choi Soon-sil’s detention on October 31 to decide if they will formally arrest her.

Yesterday, eight banks were raided in connection with the scandal, South Korean media reported.

The Yonhap news agency said the authorities were looking to confiscate documents related to Choi Soon-sil’s financial transactions.

Image source Getty Images

Image source Getty Images

She has been accused of embezzling money and of pressuring companies to donate to foundations she benefitted from, on the basis of her closeness to the president.

Choi Soon-sil also stands accused of involvement in high-level presidential decision making, despite lacking the security clearance required to handle classified documents.

She was placed under emergency detention on October 31 with prosecutors saying they feared she may destroy evidence.

“She has fled overseas in the past, and she doesn’t have a permanent address in Korea, making her a flight risk,” a prosecution official told Yonhap.

“She is also in an extremely unstable psychological state.”

Choi Soon-sil had told reporters on October 31 that she “committed a sin that deserves death”.

On November 1, a 45-year-old man who said he wanted to “help Choi Soon-sil die” drove a construction vehicle into the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ office.

Choi Soon-sil was not inside the building, but a security guard was injured in the attack and the building was damaged.

Last week, President Park Geun-hye publicly apologized, admitting “certain documents” had been shared with Choi Soon-sil and she had been allowed to edit political speeches.

“Choi advised me on expressions in my speeches and public relations during the last presidential campaign and she continued to help me for a certain period of time after I took office,” Park Geun-hye said.

“I deeply apologize to the people,” she said, before bowing to the camera.

That did little to suppress public anger and about 8,000 people protested on October 29, some calling for Park Geun-hye’s resignation.

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