Choi Soon-sil put behind bars to prevent flight, evidence destruction

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Choi Soon-sil put behind bars to prevent flight, evidence destruction

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Choi Soon-sil gets off a bus to enter the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office Tuesday morning for the second day of questioning. [NEWSIS]

Prosecutors placed Choi Soon-sil under emergency detention at around 11:57 p.m. Monday after hours of questioning, saying she might flee or destroy evidence.

By placing Choi behind bars in emergency detention, prosecutors have 48 hours, or until 11:57 p.m. Wednesday, to file a pre-trial detention warrant to a court to keep her in jail.

Given the rising public disgust with the Park Geun-hye government, it is likely that the prosecutors will request an arrest warrant.

The 60-year-old Choi, who is alleged to have had mysterious power over the president, is also facing accusations of embezzlement, tax evasion and acquiring of classified information from the Blue House. She was transported to the Seoul Detention Center at 2 a.m. Tuesday following 11 hours of questioning at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

She could face grave charges if prosecutors confirm that she was pulling strings from behind the scenes in state affairs since Park took office in February 2013.

Under criminal law, prosecutors can place a suspect under emergency detention if an alleged crime is grave enough to lead to a prison term of three years or more or if the suspect is deemed likely to destroy evidence or go on the lam.

During Monday’s questioning, Choi is said to have denied most of the accusations against her, according to media reports.

On Wednesday night, Choi will either go home or be returned to the detention center after prosecutors are granted a pre-trial detention warrant by a court.

With a pre-trial detention warrant, prosecutors have 20 days to indict Choi.

President Park’s controversial friend was brought back to the prosecutors’ office at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a second round of questioning. On her way to the prosecutors’ office Monday, Choi admitted she “committed a sin that deserves death” and expressed her apology to the public and asked for forgiveness.


BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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