South Korea’s presidential Blue House said on Thursday that impeached President Park Geun-hye will soon allow herself to be interrogated -- but only “when trust is restored with special prosecutors”.
A day earlier, Park’s representatives delayed a plan for investigators to question her this week over multiple power abuse allegations, as presidential officials expressed frustration at an apparent leak of information concerning the interrogation to local media.
Although prosecutors denied such a lapse in confidentiality, one member of Park’s team even threatened that the president might stop cooperating altogether with the special investigators who took over the probe in December.
“It is wrong to speculate that [Park] is poised to reject the direct inquiry,” an unnamed aide told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
“Our stance is that the president will undergo [questioning] as soon as possible when trust is restored with special prosecutors,” he insisted.
Parliament voted to oust Park on Dec. 9 on charges ranging from forcing businesses to pay tens of millions of dollars in donations to allowing a private confidante to wield undue influence over state affairs.
Despite having her powers automatically suspended pending a Constitutional Court verdict on her impeachment, Park’s position still allows her to refuse questioning by investigators.
The court is expected to deliver its decision next month -- either triggering a snap election or reinstating the president.
However, there are concerns that the verdict could be swayed if the current probe team runs out of time. Investigators currently have until the end of the month to complete their work unless acting leader Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn agrees to an extension.
The prosecution’s case has so far been built on raids of relevant offices and the testimonies of key figures under the Park administration, some of whom have been arrested and indicted.