S. Korea prosecutors push again to search Park's compound

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2017 2:37 AM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean prosecutors said Friday that they will file a suit to try to force aides to impeached President Park Geun-hye to stop blocking searches of Park's official compound.

Prosecutors tried to enter the Blue House with a court-issued search warrant last week to check for material connected to a corruption scandal involving Park and her confidante. Park's aides turned them away, citing a law that can block searches of sites with state secrets.

Prosecution spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said that a suit will be filed with the Seoul Administrative Court to see if blocking such searches is legal. He expects the court to make a ruling next week.

The move comes a day after prosecutors said Park scrapped plans to let authorities question her on Thursday to protest earlier media leaks about the timing and location for the interview.

The two sides had agreed not to disclose such information before the questioning was over. Prosecutors said they did not leak the information.

By law, a president in South Korea has immunity from prosecution while in office, except in cases of grave crimes such as treason. Whether that law enables a president to avoid being investigated remains the subject of debates by experts. No South Korean presidents have ever been questioned by prosecutors while in office.

Prosecutors accuse Park of letting her shadowy confidante Choi Soon-sil meddle in government affairs and colluding with her to extort money from private companies. Park has denied the accusations, though she said she had got some help from Choi in editing speeches.

The Constitutional Court is deliberating about whether to formally remove Park from office or restore her presidential powers.