UPDATE : 2018.1.23 TUE 09:49
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Lawyer of Park's confidante cries foul at investigation

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) – The legal representative of President Park Geun-hye's confidante, who is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal, said Thursday that investigators violated her human rights in the course of their interrogations.

Attorney Lee Kyung-jae said in a statement that his client Choi Soon-sil was deprived of her right to be assisted by lawyers when she was questioned by the independent counsel team for the first time in late December.

Lee claimed that a prosecutor carried out the interrogation under the guise of a face-to-face talk, and did not allow her lawyer to accompany her during the process. He claimed that the prosecutor also forced Choi to confess that she colluded with President Park Geun-hye.

The announcement came one day after Choi slammed the investigation team as undemocratic as she appeared at its office to undergo questioning after refusing to do so for nearly a month.

"The special counsel's team is no longer democratic!" Choi shouted to reporters Wednesday, as she was escorted by correctional officers to an elevator at the office in southern Seoul.

Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of President Park Geun-hye, arrives wearing a face mask at the office of special prosecutors in Seoul on Jan. 26, 2017. The independent counsel looking into an influence-peddling scandal revolving around the president and Choi executed an arrest warrant issued against Choi, who is at the center of the scandal. (Yonhap)

The investigation team's spokesman Lee Kyu-chul denied such argument during a press briefing Wednesday, saying it seems like Choi's attempt to "put a blemish" on the probe team's investigation.

A local court on Monday issued a warrant to arrest Choi after she repeatedly declined to answer the summons, citing health issues and her own trial, as well as a "repressive investigation."

Indicted last year, Choi is already in custody, but the investigation team led by Special Counsel Park Young-soo could not force her to appear at its office as the detention warrant under which she is held was issued for other charges sought from the state prosecutors. The prosecution officially handed over the case to Park's team last month.

Yoo Heui-jin  edt@koreapost.com

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