S Korea's Park questioned at court hearing on arrest request

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Being taken into custody is a dramatic step in the disgrace of South Korea's first woman President, and was a key demand of the millions of people who took to the streets to protest against her as the scandal engulfed her leadership previous year.

Looking grim-faced and pale, Park ignored a barrage of press flashbulbs and did not speak when she arrived at the Seoul Central District Court, nor when she left.

Government attorneys requested the arrest warrant on Monday, citing the gravity of Park's alleged crimes and the risk that she could destroy evidence.

Scores of supporters, mostly elderly voters, waved national flags outside Park's home, chanting their opposition to her arrest.

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye, center, arrives at the Seoul Central District Court for hearing on a prosecutors' request for her arrest for corruption, in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Possible places are the detention facility in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, or a holding cell at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, only one-minute drive from the courthouse. It says Park will be detained.

Judge Kang Bu-young said in a text message to journalists that he made a decision to approve the arrest warrant as there is a concern that Park may destroy potential evidence that could be used against her.

The former leader was grilled for almost nine hours in court on Thursday as a judge deliberated whether she should be arrested.

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The Seoul court said it chose to approve Park's arrest because of worries that she may try to destroy evidence.

Ms Park, 65, arrived at the Seoul Central District Court yesterday morning but ignored questions from the media.

Having failed to appear for her impeachment trial before being expelled from office March 10, Park was not obligated to attend the hearing Thursday. "It would be unfair" not to seek Park's arrest, a source from the prosecutors' office had said. They wept, chanted slogans and tried to block Park's vehicle before being pushed back by police. The party also criticized Park for trying to hide her wrongdoing and asked her to apologize to the public.

Being taken into custody would be a dramatic step in the disgrace of South Korea's first woman president, and is a key demand of the millions of people who took to the streets to protest against her as the scandal engulfed her leadership previous year.

Park is suspected of conspiring with Choi to pressure 16 business groups, including Samsung, to donate 77.4 billion won ($69 million) to two nonprofits that Choi controlled and used for personal benefit.

Prosecutors already identified Park as an accomplice to her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, who is now in custody, for multiple charges including bribery, abuse of authority, coercion and the leakage of confidential documents.

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