Park apologises, vows to undergo questioning 'faithfully'

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

The prosecution said in a news briefing that it summoned key suspects in the scandal - Choi, ex-presidential secretaries An Chong-bum and Jeong Ho-seong - for questioning, but they refused to appear. Park's acts "betrayed the trust of the people and were of the kind that can not be tolerated for the sake of protecting the Constitution", Justice Lee said.

Why did Park lose her job?

The ministry also quoted the ruling by the Constitutional Court, which found that the non-profit foundations were run for the sake of private interests under the control of Choi, Park's friend.

Some 40 people have been indicted in connection to the scandal, including Choi, Samsung heir Lee Jae Yong, and Ms Park's former aides.

Security was tight as Park made a brief statement before facing a full day's questioning.

Park appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office Tuesday morning to answer questions for the first time over the scandal. "No audio or video recording is being done now". "I think her use of simple language is meant to deliver a false apology and her expression of sincerity to the questioning is aimed at uniting her supporters", he said.

The top focus of Tuesday's questioning will be whether she took bribes from the Samsung group.

Should Park deny the allegations, whether the prosecution will request an arrest warrant will be a focal point. Others involved in the scandal, including Choi and Lee, were all detained during their investigations. Park's detention could be a political game-changer, as her supporters - mostly conservative and elderly - are increasingly uniting. She is the fourth former South Korean leader to be probed or jailed over corruption scandals. Roh Tae-woo was grilled on charges of creating massive slush funds during his term in November 1995, Chun Doo Hwan was questioned for mutiny and treason in December 1995 and Roh Moo-hyun was questioned in April 2009 over bribery allegations. Soon afterward, he jumped from a mountain cliff behind his home, leaving a suicide note that read: "there are too many people suffering because of me".

As expected, Park delivered a prepared message. "The people became again embarrassed for having any expectation".

The liberal party's front-runner Moon Jae-in, who has been unchallenged in recent polls for the upcoming presidential election on May 9, also urged the former president to admit her wrongdoing and ask for the people's forgiveness.

The Bareun Party said it was regretful that Park failed to offer a honest apology. The Liberty Korea Party, a conservative party that Park is still a member of, defended her, asking prosecutors to show the former president respect.

South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung also remained mum about seeking a warrant for Park, while Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung asserted that the court should not only seek a warrant but also ban her from going overseas.

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