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S. Korean president says to accept investigation over scandal if necessary

(Xinhua)    10:34, November 04, 2016

SEOUL, Nov. 4 -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Friday that she will accept an investigation into herself, if necessary, by prosecutors over a scandal surrounding Choi Soon-sil, the president's longtime confidante suspected of intervening into state affairs.

Park addressed the nation over the political scandal that sparked calls for her resignation, expressing her sincere apology once again after making her first public apology for it last week.

The embattled president said she will also accept a probe by an independent counsel into the case involving her close friend accused of peddling undue influence and meddling in government decisions behind the scenes.

If realized, Park would become the first South Korean leader who is investigated by prosecutors as incumbent president.

Under the country's constitution, a president is free from being criminally indicted by prosecutors during his or her presidency except for treason and insurrection charges.

Some legal experts, however, claimed that the president can face criminal investigation on condition that the criminal indictment is suspended until the end of presidency.

Park's acceptance of criminal investigation, though she added a precondition of "if necessary," came amid a snowballing public furor over Choi and former close advisors to President Park.

A Seoul court approved an arrest warrant last night for Choi on charges of fraud and abuse of power. The 60-year-old woman has been placed into emergency detention since Monday. She came back to Seoul on Sunday after staying abroad for about two months.

Prosecutors allegedly plan to seek an arrest warrant on Friday for Ahn Jong-beom, former senior presidential secretary on policy coordination suspected of helping Choi pressure conglomerates into donating tens of millions of U.S. dollars to two nonprofit foundations that Choi actually controls.

Chung Ho-seong, former presidential secretary, was urgently arrested by prosecutors on Thursday night as he is accused of having brought confidential documents for the president to Choi, including reports on defense, diplomatic and economic affairs.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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