UPDATE : 2019.10.22 TUE 16:44
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Court to hold hearing on arrest of ex-President Park in corruption probe

A Seoul court will hold a hearing Thursday to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye over a string of corruption allegations that removed her from office.

The former president will attend the review at the Seoul Central District Court around 10:30 a.m. The result is likely to come out late at night.

State prosecutors filed the request on Monday to detain Park on charges of bribery, abuse of authority, coercion and leaking government secrets, citing the graveness of the alleged crimes and the possibility of the destruction of evidence.

Prosecutor-General Kim Soo-nam comes into work at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in Seoul on March 29, 2017, a day ahead of a court hearing on the legality of detaining former President Park Geun-hye over a string of corruption allegations that led to her removal from office. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors suspect Park colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to force dozens of local conglomerates to "donate" a total of 77.4 billion won (US$70 million) to two dubious foundations -- Mir and K-Sports -- allegedly controlled by Choi.

Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong was arrested for giving or promising some 43.4 billion won to Choi, and in effect to Park, as kickbacks in return for business favors. Of the total, 20.4 billion won went to the two foundations.

If convicted of the bribery charges, Park can be sentenced to 10 years or more in prison.

Park is also accused of involvement in blacklisting cultural figures deemed critical of her policies and prohibiting government agencies from providing financial support to them. Her former close aides were arrested for their roles in creating and managing the list of more than 9,000 artists, writers, filmmakers and entertainment figures.

Former President Park Geun-hye leaves the prosecution on March 22, 2017, after an overnight investigation on corruption allegations. Park was questioned for over 21 hours on suspicions that she abused her power and was involved in bribery by colluding with her close friend Choi Soon-sil. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors suspect that the former president abused her power by pressuring her aides to sack culture ministry officials who resisted discriminatory measures against those on the blacklist.

She is also accused of unlawfully intervening in the corporate management of conglomerates, including Hyundai Motor, POSCO and KT, by pressuring them into signing contracts with Choi's firms.

During a marathon interrogation session at the prosecution on Tuesday last week, Park reportedly denied all allegations against her.

If the court issues the writ, Park will be transferred to a detention center south of Seoul, as the country's third former president to be arrested for criminal allegations following Roh Tae-woo and Chun Doo-hwan.

She vacated the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae earlier this month after the Constitutional Court removed her from office in a historic ruling on March 10.(Yonhap)

Yoo Heui-Jin  edt@koreapost.com

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