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Liberal parties urge Park's arrest as conservatives demand leniency

2017/03/30 11:46

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- Liberal political parties called for former President Park Geun-hye's arrest Thursday, demanding what they called justice and fairness in the investigation over her allegations that have already led to the arrest of her friend and former aides.

"The people cannot but feel betrayed to watch a former president attend a court hearing on a warrant for her arrest," Chang Jin-young, a lawyer and spokesman for the liberal People's Party, told a press briefing at the National Assembly.

"Even belatedly, she must admit to her wrongdoing of destroying government discipline and apologize to the people," he added.

Park was at a local district court reviewing a prosecution request for her arrest, 20 days after she was removed from office by a Constitutional Court ruling that upheld a parliamentary impeachment of her over a series of corruption allegations.

The former president refused to offer any comments when asked by a waiting army of media at the court.

"It was the last chance given to her to offer an apology to the people, but Park again went against the people's hope," Rep. Koh Yong-jin of the largest liberal Democratic Party said in a press conference also held at the National Assembly.

"I hope the court will make a fair decision to show that the rule of law persists on this land," he added.

Former President Park Geun-hye (R) enters a Seoul district court on March 30, 2017, to attend a hearing on a warrant for her arrest. (Yonhap) Former President Park Geun-hye (R) enters a Seoul district court on March 30, 2017, to attend a hearing on a warrant for her arrest. (Yonhap)

The two liberal parties earlier cited the fact that many of Park's alleged accomplices or collaborators in her corruption scandal are already in detention.

"It doesn't make sense in the first place that the person who accepted bribes is not detained, while the one who offered the bribes has been," Democratic Party spokesman Rep. Youn Kwan-suk said earlier.

Park's former aides still at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, on the other hand, called on the court to show leniency.

"I still cannot think of any logical reason the prosecution has asked for an arrest warrant (against Park) when she is a former president with no risks of flight or destroying evidence," a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

The former ruling Liberty Korea Party offered no official comments even after Park's appearance at the court for the hearing that was expected to end late at night or early the next day.

However, Rep. Cho Won-jin of the party earlier said at least 77 party lawmakers have signed a petition urging the court to reject the prosecution's demand for an arrest warrant for Park.

"Requesting a warrant for the arrest of a former female president, who sincerely cooperated with a prosecution interrogation that lasted more than 21 hours, is too harsh for a former president, especially when considering the negative impact it would have on the dignity of the entire nation," Cho said.

Rep. Kim Jin-tae, a pro-Park loyalist and a presidential hopeful of the conservative party, has also demanded more "respect" and "honorable treatment" due to Park being a former president, calling her a "lady forced out of the royal palace."

   bdk@yna.co.kr

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