S. Korean prosecutors to interrogate impeached president in February

SEOUL -- South Korean prosecutors independently investigating a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye will interrogate the impeached president by early February.

Lee Kyu-chul, spokesman of the independent counsel team, told a press briefing Tuesday that face-to-face interrogation of President Park should be conducted as late as the beginning of February.

It marked the first time that the special prosecutors set the timing of investigation of Park, indicating its probe into the presidential scandal is getting to the point.

It remains to be seen whether President Park would accept a formal request for face-to-face interrogation, which the independent counsel team has yet to make.

Park had agreed to be quizzed by prosecutors before the launch of the independent probe, but she later rejected any face-to-face interrogation.

The impeached leader has been identified as a criminal accomplice to her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who has been detained for meddling in state affairs behind the scenes and extorting money from conglomerates.

The independent counsel on Monday requested an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong for multiple counts, including bribery.

Lee is accused of bribing Choi and her daughter in return for getting support from the national pension fund in the 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates to create a de-facto holding company.

The merger was crucial to the heir apparent of Samsung Group, the country's largest family-run conglomerate, to inherit management control from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

Samsung also made the biggest donations to two Choi-controlled foundations among over 50 large businesses.

The special prosecutors were reportedly looking into whether other donations were made in exchange for getting business favors or special pardon by the president.

Former presidential chief of staff and the current culture and sports minister were summoned earlier in the day on suspicions that they ordered the drawing up of a so-called blacklist of anti-government artists to prevent any financial support for them.

Source: Philippines News Agency