South Korea’s former president, Park Geun-hye, was arrested March 31, three weeks after being removed from office by the country’s Constitutional Court.
The former president was removed from office as part of the fallout from an influence-peddling scandal involving her confidant Choi Soon-sil, which saw thousands take to the streets in protests, supported by churchmen and many Catholics, to demand he removal.
Almost 11 percent of South Korea’s population is Catholic.
Park became the nation’s third president to be put behind bars facing criminal charges, following Chung Do-hwan and Roh Tae-woo in the 1990s, the Korean Times reported.
A warrant for Park’s arrest was issued in the early hours of the morning following a court hearing that lasted nearly nine hours.
“There are considerable reasons and need to arrest [Park] as key charges have been substantiated considerably and concerns over the destruction of evidence still prevail,” presiding Judge Kang Bu-young said, approving the prosecution’s request to arrest her.
The former president was taken to a detention center in Euiwang, Gyeonggi Province soon after the warrant was issued.
The questioning of Park is likely to take place early next week.
Because official campaigning for the presidential election begins April 17, the prosecution is expected to indict Park before then, to minimize the case’s impact on the election.
If Park is found guilty of the multiple charges laid against her, including bribery, she faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and possibly up to 45 years.
She faces 13 charges in the scandal, including bribery, abuse of power, extortion and sharing state secrets with an unauthorized person.
At the hearing held for the arrest warrant, Park denied all the charges against her.