Monday, April 22, 2019
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Probe now demands testimony from Choi Soon-sil

Choi Soon-sil, who is facing allegations of fraud, refused to attend the hearing citing a panic disorder as the reason.

A South Korean parliamentary committee sent a squad of security officers to order the jailed woman at the centre of a scandal that threatens to bring down the president to attend a hearing investigating her alleged manipulation of government affairs.

Wednesday's drama is the latest step in what appears to be the final days in power for President Park Geun-hye, who faces an impeachment vote on Friday.

Park, whose approval rating dropped last week to a record low of 4 percent, is accused of having allowed close friend Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and of giving Choi access to official state documents. 

Choi, now jailed at a detention centre near Seoul, had earlier cited a panic disorder as the reason that she couldn't testify on Wednesday, according one of the politicians at the hearing.


READ MORE: Business elite grilled over Park scandal 


In past cases, witnesses who refused to attend hearings have been fined. 

Prosecutors have arrested and indicted Choi, two ex-presidential aides and a music video director known as a Choi associate, for extortion, leaking confidential documents and other charges in November.

One of the two ex-aides allegedly pressured big companies to donate millions of dollars to foundations controlled by Choi, while the other is accused of passing confidential government documents to Choi. Both men refused to testify on Wednesday.

Fourteen people caught up in the scandal were at Wednesday's hearing, including two of Choi's former associates and ex-presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon.

'Hard for you to go to heaven'

With many key witnesses absent, legislators grilled Kim about a 2014 ferry disaster that has long dogged Park's government over what is widely believed to have been a botched rescue effort.

The sinking killed more than 300 people, mostly high school pupils on a field trip.

Opposition politician Kim Kyung-jin screamed as he grilled Kim about an allegation that he told junior presidential secretaries that efforts to recover bodies from the wreckage should be stopped because it would be a burden to the government.

The legislator cited what he said was a memo left by a late Park secretary. Kim Ki-choon denied making such an instruction, causing Kim Kyung-jin to erupt.

"It will be hard for you go to heaven after you die. You need a lot of self-reflection," the legislator said.

If impeached, Park's presidential powers will be suspended and the country's Constitutional Court has up to 180 days to rule on whether to formally unseat her.

On Tuesday, Park told ruling party leaders that she is willing to accept the outcome if she is impeached and would make "every available effort" to prepare for a court process.

The comments suggest Park is now bracing herself for a Constitutional Court procedure that could determine her fate.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS or Email:

Labour activists disappeared in Chi...

Read More

Foreign troops pour into Papua New ...

Read More

Australia, the Indian Ocean Dipole ...

Read More

Macron hails New Caledonia vote to ...

Read More

North Korea warns of return to nucl...

Read More

Reuters reporters in Myanmar appeal...

Read More

Most Read Articles

Most Read News

Donation

Thanks to all of our supporters for your generosity and your encouragement of an independent press!

Enter Amount:

Featured_Author

Login






Login reminder Forgot login?

Subscribe to MWC News Alert

Email Address

Subscribe in a reader Facebok page Twitter page

Israel pounds Gaza

India's Kerala state devastated

Capturing life under apartheid