SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s disgraced ex-president arrived at a Seoul court Thursday for hearing on a prosecutors’ request to her arrest for corruption allegations that have already toppled her from power.
Live TV footage showed a stern-looking Park Geun-hye entering the Seoul Central District Court building amid a barrage of camera flashes. She did not comment to reporters. The court is expected to decide by Friday morning whether to approve her arrest.
If the court approves the arrest warrant, Park will be immediately sent to a detention facility as prosecutors can detain her for up to 20 days before laying formal charges.
If the court rejects the arrest request, prosecutors can still indict and charge her.
Prosecutors accuse Park of colluding with a confidante to extort from big businesses, take a bribe from one of the companies and commit other wrongdoings. The allegations prompted millions of South Koreans to stage streets protests every weekend for months before the Constitutional Court ruled to dismiss her on March 10. Park’s presidential powers had already been suspended after parliament impeached her in December.
It was a dramatic setback to Park, a daughter of a late dictator who serves as an icon for South Korean conservatives who revere him as a hero who pulled a war-torn country out of poverty in the 1960-70s despite a record of severe human rights abuses.
Earlier Thursday, hundreds of her supporters, mostly elderly conservative citizens, gathered near her Seoul home, waving national flags and chanting slogans when she left for the court.
Prosecutors say they want to arrest Park because her alleged crimes are “grave” and other suspects involved the scandal, including her confidante Choi Soo-sil, have already been arrested.
In the coming weeks, prosecutors are expected to formally charge Park with extortion, bribery and abuse of power. A bribery conviction alone is punishable by up to life in prison in South Korea.
Park and Choi deny most of the allegations. Park has said she only let Choi edit some of her presidential speeches and got her help on “public relations” issues. Choi made similar statements.