SEOUL – Ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who has been in custody over her involvement in a corruption scheme, refused on Tuesday to be questioned by the prosecutor about the illegal financing she allegedly received from the National Intelligence Service during her time in office.
Prosecutors from the Central District of Seoul went on Tuesday to a detention center in Seoul, where Park has been detained since her dismissal in March, to question the former president over the new allegations, but she refused to answer any of their questions, judicial sources told the local news agency Yonhap.
The prosecution believes that the presidential office, then led by Park, received about 4 billion won ($3.72 million) from the NIS between 2013-2016 and, therefore, wants the former president to share her knowledge of the illicit funding and whether it was used for personal or political purposes.
However, the ex-president has refused to testify on these allegations, citing her poor health, which was the same reason she gave to avoid the previous court hearing on her alleged involvement in the “Rasputin” corruption scheme.
Park, 65, has also claimed that the conditions in Uiwang Prison, south of Seoul, where she is detained are inhumane, which resulted in her physical problems, and she has refused to meet with the five public lawyers assigned to her.
The former president was accused of conspiring with her friend Choi Soon-sil, dubbed the South Korean “Rasputin” for her intimacy with Park, to establish a corruption scheme.
The pair was believed to have extorted several million dollars from various major South Korean firms, including Samsung, in exchange for a favorable government deal, for which Park could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison or a maximum of life imprisonment.
South Korean justice has also spent years investigating the links between the NIS and the Park administration as it believes that Park might have received help from the intelligence agency to win the 2012 elections, which could lead the prosecution to present new charges against the former president.
In August, NIS Director Won Sei-hoon was sentenced to four years in prison for his meddling in Park’s presidential campaign, after a previous sentence against him was overturned.