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South Korean president's confidante placed under emergency detention

Hits:  UpdateTime:2016-11-01 15:37:55

SEOUL - Choi Soon-sil, a longtime confidante of South Korean President Park Geun-hye suspected of

having meddled in state affairs, has been placed under an emergency detention after hours of questioning

by prosecutors on risks of fleeing and destroying evidence, local media reports showed on Tuesday.

The 60-year-old, who changed her name into Choi Seo-won, was urgently arrested at about 11:57 p.m. on

Monday (1457 GMT) after she appeared at 3 p.m. in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office for questioning.

Choi has been transported to a detention center in Seoul, and prosecutors will seek a warrant to formally

arrest her within 48 hours.

Under criminal law, the emergency arrest without warrant is allowed when there are reasonable grounds

that a suspect committed a crime bringing more than three years in prison.

A prosecution official was quoted as saying there's concern about Choi's destroying evidence as she has

denied all of her charges and that there's a flight risk as she fled overseas in the past and has no fixed place to stay.

Prosecutors are also wary of what might happen if she is released as she showed signs of an extremely

unstable psychological state, according to the official.

Choi, seen as a political big shot behind the curtain, has been placed behind bars since she unexpectedly

returned to Seoul on Sunday after staying in Europe for about two months.

She has been suspected of pulling strings behind the scenes and interfering with government affairs by

using her connection to President Park. Their friendship has lasted for about four decades.

Local media reports speculated that Choi had accessed presidential speeches and statements hours or

days before President Park actually deliver them, including a landmark Dresden speech made in Germany

in 2014 that laid out a vision for reunification with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Copies of presidential reports had been reportedly brought to Choi every day, including documents on

presidential schedule for overseas trips and secret contacts with the DPRK under the previous Lee

Myung-bak administration.

Choi also allegedly meddled in major government decisions, including the shutdown of the Kaesong

Industrial Complex and the appointment of ministers. The decisions were made after consulting with

Choi's own advisers, including a commercial film director and a former fencer of the national team.

Corruption allegations included Choi's attempt to privatize non-profit Mir and K-Sports Foundations,

which were recently established through an unprecedentedly rapid approval by pressuring

conglomerates, including Samsung and Hyundai, into donating tens of millions of U.S. dollars.

Choi has also been accused of peddling influence to enable her daughter to illicitly enter a prestigious

university. It encouraged even high school students in a society where college education determines the

majority part of their lives to take to streets for rallies over the weekend.

See more at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2016-11/01/content_27234727_2.htm

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