A Seoul court on Thursday turned down prosecutors' request for a warrant to arrest Cho Yoon-sun, a former minister and presidential aide to then-President Park Geun-hye on charges of bribery and abuse of power.
The Seoul Central District Court said her charges are disputable and it's difficult to see that she presents a risk of flight or destroying evidence in light of the progress in the investigation.
Prosecutors filed for the arrest warrant on Friday on charges that she took at least 50 million won (US$46,000) in bribes from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) between 2014 and 2015 when she served as senior presidential secretary for political affairs.
They also suspect that she pressured the country's largest business lobby for conglomerates to donate some 3.5 billion won to 31 conservative civic groups that supported the Park administration.
If the warrant was granted, she would have been arrested for a second time, only five months after she was released from custody with a suspended prison term for her role in the creation and management of a blacklist of artists deemed critical of the Park government.
Cho, 51, was under pre-sentencing detention for about six months before she was released on July 27, after a lower court meted out a one-year jail term suspended for two years. She has appealed the ruling. (Yonhap)