Park Geun-Hye Conspired With Aide, Prosecutors Say

As the controversy around South Korean President Park Geun-hye's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil grows, the country's prosecutors on Sunday said they believed that the president conspired in criminal activities of her aide who is accused of manipulating government affairs.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the capital Seoul on the same day for the fourth in a weekly series of demonstrations aimed at forcing Park to resign.

Park was booked as a suspect, which marks the first case for a sitting South Korean president, as she is suspected of having been involved in most of the allegations raised against the three indicted Sunday.

A special investigation team appointed by public prosecutors said that Ms Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil was indicted on charges of abuse of power, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud, while two senior former aides An Chong-bum and Chung Ho-sung were also formally charged.

Another presidential aide was arrested for leaking confidential state documents.

Eight heavyweight politicians and presidential hopefuls agreed to ask their opposition parties to discuss the impeachment of the scandal-hit president.

Park faces allegations that she helped Choi extract money from the firms and ordered her aides to leak state documents to Choi, who has no official title or security clearance.

Under the Korean constitution, a sitting president can not be indicted unless on charges of treason but Lee said the prosecutors "will continue to investigate the president".

"Based on such judgment, the special probe team will continue investigating the president", Lee Young-ryeol, the chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office who heads the team, told a press briefing.

Lee Young-ryeol, the chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office who heads the team investigating the influence-peddling scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her confidante, announces the interim probe results during a press briefing at the prosecution's office in Seoul on November 20, 2016.

Additionally, Choi and Ahn pressured the Lotte Group into giving 7 billion won ($5.9 million) to the K Sports foundation to finance the construction of a sports facility in the city of Hanam, which was to be operated by The Blue K, a company established by Choi, Lee said.

Ms Park's office did not have an immediate comment.

Prosecutors originally requested the questioning no later than Wednesday and re-proposed it as late as Friday, but the president's lawyer delayed it to next week.

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon). South Korean protesters shout slogans as they march toward the presidential house during a rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016.

Nevertheless, Park still planned to cooperate with prosecutors for questions this week to order to "prove her innocence".

Park has apologized multiple times for her role in the scandal.

"She should follow people's demands through a decision to resign voluntarily rather than making the worst choice that would plunge the nation into a bigger crisis", he added, according to Yonhap News Agency.

They shared views that President Park should completely distance herself from all state affairs such as the push to sign a military intelligence pact with Japan and approve the state-authored history textbook.



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