| SEOUL, March 30
SEOUL, March 30 A South Korean court began
deliberating on Thursday whether to arrest ousted president Park
Geun-hye, who was removed from office in a corruption scandal
involving charges she solicited bribes from the country's
Park could become South Korea's third former leader to be
jailed for wrongdoing. She is accused of colluding with a
friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to contribute
to foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.
The 65-year-old appeared expressionless as she arrived at
the Seoul Central District Court at 10:20 a.m. (0120 GMT) to
plead her case that she should not be arrested while prosecutors
investigate the scandal that has ensnared South Korea's
political and business elite.
Park, South Korea's first democratically elected leader to
be forced from office, argues that she does not pose a flight
risk and will not try to tamper with evidence.
She and Choi have both denied any wrongdoing.
A judge will study evidence and hear arguments from
prosecutors and Park's lawyers before deciding whether an arrest
warrant should be issued.
If Park is arrested, prosecutors will then have up to 20
days to file formal charges against her and put her on trial.
Park emerged from her private home and quickly stepped into
a car before she was driven to the court in a motorcade. Police
and security personnel blocked her supporters from spilling into
the street to stop her car as it left her house in Seoul's
upmarket Gangnam neighbourhood.
Prosecutors said on Monday Park was accused of soliciting
companies for money and infringing upon the freedom of corporate
management by using her power as the president. Park was
questioned for 14 hours by prosecutors last week.
She could face more than 10 years in jail if convicted of
receiving bribes from bosses of big conglomerates, including
Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee, in return for favours.
Lee, who denies charges that he provided bribes in return
for favours for Samsung, and Choi are already in detention and
are on trial separately.
If she is arrested, Park will likely be given a bigger cell
than other inmates in a Seoul detention facility but be subject
to the same rules on everything from meals to room inspections,
former prosecution and correctional officials have said.
Park's hairdresser came to her home as usual on Thursday
morning to coif the former president's hair in her favourite
She was removed from office when a constitutional court
upheld her parliamentary impeachment this month.
(Editing by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)