South Korean president's office angered by media leak

Park Geun-hye may refuse questioning by special prosecutors following stories about planned interrogation

South Korean president's office angered by media leak

Park Geun-hye may refuse questioning by special prosecutors following stories about planned interrogation

08 February 2017 Wednesday 16:10
South Korean president's office angered by media leak

Impeached President Park Geun-hye’s office on Wednesday threatened to withhold cooperation from prosecutors investigating her after details of their inquiry were leaked, local media reported.

News reports claimed earlier that investigators would question Park over abuse of power allegations on Thursday -- an unprecedented development for a sitting president -- and there was speculation about whether the meeting at the presidential office would be televised.

“The promise has been broken,” a presidential aide told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity and referring to an agreement between the prosecutors and Park’s lawyers not to reveal information to the media.

“We are now very frustrated, with some arguing that we have to declare that we will no longer engage in any dialogue with the special counsel,” the official said.

Park is accused of colluding with her friend Choi Soon-sil to extort money from conglomerates and neglecting her duty to save lives during a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300. She had already refused to comply with state prosecutors last year before special investigators took over the case in December.

The current prosecution team’s remit is due to expire at the end of February unless Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting as president while Park’s powers are suspended, agrees to an extension.

If the prosecutors fail to put forward sufficient evidence against Park, analysts believe it could influence the outcome of her impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court, which is expected to reach a verdict next month on whether to remove her from office.

Park has not attended any of the trial hearings since and has ignored weekly street protests demanding her resignation.

Several key figures in her administration are either in custody or being investigated over allegations ranging from bribery to blacklisting critical artists.

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