(2nd LD) Park apologizes to public, vows to undergo questioning 'faithfully'
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SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- Former President Park Geun-hye apologized to the public over an influence-peddling scandal as she arrived at the prosecutors' office on Tuesday to be questioned over a string of corruption allegations that removed her from office earlier this month.
Park appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul at around 9:30 a.m. as a suspect of various charges including bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leak of government secrets.
"I feel sorry to the public," she said as she arrived at the prosecution. "I will faithfully go through the interrogation."
Before the inquiry began, Park held a 10-minute tea time with senior prosecutor Roh Seung-kwon. He asked for her cooperation in the investigation to reveal the truth, according to the prosecution.
The interrogation will not be recorded or videotaped as Park and her attorneys refused, according to her lawyer Son Bum-kyu.
Two of Park's lawyers will take turns in accompanying her during the questioning, which watchers expect could continue past midnight.
Former President Park Geun-hye leaves her home in Seoul for prosecution questioning on March 21, 2017. Park, dismissed by the Constitutional Court on March 10, faces a probe on 13 criminal allegations, including graft and abuse of power. Upon arrival at the prosecution's office, Park said she will comply with the investigation with sincerity. (Yonhap)
Police tightened security around the prosecution office, mobilizing some 2,000 officers nearby for contingencies. Access to the compound was restricted to officials and reporters who went through prior security checks.
Park's supporters gathered near the complex and her private home from early in the morning, chanting slogans, such as "Nullify the impeachment!"
Near another gate of the prosecution compound, those against Park gathered and chanted for her arrest.
Prosecutors are expected to grill Park over multiple charges, including that local business groups donated huge sums of money to two foundations allegedly controlled by Choi in return for business favors.
Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group, was arrested and indicted over suspicions of giving bribes to Choi, and in effect to Park. He has been flatly denying the charges.
Park has so far effectively rejected undergoing a direct investigation, but the Constitutional Court's decision to oust her earlier this month stripped her of the immunity that had protected her from criminal prosecution.
A number of former aides have been questioned and put on trial over their alleged involvement in the scandal, meanwhile.
Park is the country's fourth former president to undergo questioning over criminal allegations, following Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan and the late Roh Moo-hyun.
Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide in 2009 amid an investigation into allegations that his family members accepted illicit funds.
Former President Park Geun-hye enters the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in Seoul on March 21, 2017, to undergo questioning as a criminal suspect. Park, dismissed by the Constitutional Court on March 10, faces a probe into 13 criminal allegations, including graft and abuse of power. (Yonhap)