SEOUL >> South Korea’s impeached president has scrapped plans to let officials question her Thursday because of anger over leaks to the media, prosecutors said.
The sudden rejection of what would have been the first prosecutorial questioning of a sitting president is the latest in a series of standoffs between President Park Geun-hye and prosecutors digging into her alleged involvement in the biggest political scandal in South Korea in decades.
The scandal saw millions take to the streets in protest and led to Park’s December impeachment. The Constitutional Court is holding a trial to determine whether to formally end Park’s rule or reinstate her presidential powers.
Prosecutors said both sides agreed not to disclose the exact time and place of the questioning until it was over. But the SBS TV network reported Tuesday that Park would be questioned by a group of prosecutors on Thursday at the presidential Blue House. SBS didn’t say how it obtained the information.
Prosecution spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said Thursday that Park’s lawyers told his team they were pulling out of the questioning after accusing prosecutors of leaking information about it.
Lee said his office did not leak the information. He said prosecutors still want to question Park but added that nothing has been determined about when to interview her.
Park faces allegations that she let her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil pull government stings from the shadows and extort an enormous amount money from companies in collaboration with presidential officials. Choi and several of Park’s former presidential aides have already been investigated over the scandal.
By South Korean law, a president has immunity from prosecution while in office, except in cases of grave crimes such as treason.
Park’s officials have also blocked prosecutors from searching the Blue House.