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Ousted S. Korean president apologizes before being questioned by prosecutors
Last Updated: 2017-03-21 10:36 | Xinhua
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Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrives at the prosecutors' office in Seoul, South Korea, March 21, 2017. Park Geun-hye appeared Tuesday in the prosecutors' office to be questioned over an corruption scandal that led to her impeachment earlier this month. (Xinhua/Lee Sang-ho)

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye appeared Tuesday in the prosecutors' office to be questioned over a corruption scandal that led to her impeachment earlier this month.

Park said in front of cameras at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office that she was sorry to people, vowing to face an interrogation faithfully, TV footage showed.

Just leaving the brief message to the public, the grim-faced Park entered the prosecutors' office in southern Seoul.

Park, dressed in a dark blue coat, walked out of her private home in a southern district of Seoul at about 9:17 a.m. local time (0017 GMT), getting in a black sedan and saying nothing to hundreds of supporters outside her home.

The motorcade, carrying Park and security guards, arrived in the office just minutes later.

Park has stayed in her private home since she vacated the presidential Blue House on March 12. At the time, Park smilingly waved her hands to her supporters who demanded nullification of the impeachment outside the house.

Park will be interrogated by state prosecutors for her alleged involvement in the scandal, which removed her from office after the impeachment was passed in the parliament on Dec. 9. The constitutional court upheld the motion on March 10.

Park became the fourth South Korean former president to be grilled by prosecutors.

Former President Chun Doo-hwan was arrested in December 1995 as he refused to be investigated over his coup in December 1979 and his alleged order of the massacre at a civil uprising against the military junta in May 1980.

Former President Roh Tae-woo was jailed in November 1995 after being convicted of bribery, and late President Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide in May 2009 after being grilled by prosecutors.

The interrogation of Park reportedly started following a 10-minute explanation about how the grilling goes on.

The 10th floor of the prosecutors' office would be sealed off for the interrogation of the former leader. Around 2,000 police officers were deployed around the building, outside which both anti- and pro-Park rallies were being held.

During the grilling that is forecast to last to midnight, prosecutors would focus on Park's alleged involvement in bribery, abuse of power and leakage of state secrets. A total of 13 charges were levied against her.

Park, 65, has been accused of colluding with her decades-long friend Choi Soon-sil, who is now in custody, to receive tens of millions of U.S. dollars in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the heir apparent of Samsung Group.

The kickbacks are suspected of being offered in return for helping Lee inherit the overall management control of the country's biggest family-controlled conglomerate from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalized after a heart attack almost three years.

Park was also identified as an accomplice of Choi in helping solicit tens of millions of U.S. dollars from scores of large business conglomerates to establish two non-profit foundations Choi used for personal gains.

Choi has been charged with meddling in state affairs behind the scenes by receiving government documents on a regular basis delivered by one of Park's former presidential secretaries.

Meanwhile, senior executives and employees at SK Group and Lotte Group had been summoned in the past week for bribery allegations that the country's third- and fifth-largest conglomerates donated millions of U.S. dollars to the Choi-controlled foundations in return for business favors and a presidential pardon.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won was summoned by prosecutors over the weekend. He was specially pardoned by Park in August 2015, one month after one of senior SK executives met face-to-face with then President Park.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin had a closed-door meeting with Park in early 2016, and his firm regained a license to operate duty-free shops in downtown Seoul later in the year. Lotte lost the license in November 2015.

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