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Seoul Investigators Seek to Detain Daughter of Park's Friend

  • Associated Press

FILE - Choi Soon-sil, center, the jailed confidante of disgraced South Korean President Park Geun-hye, appears for the first day of her trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 19, 2016.

Investigators looking into the scandal surrounding impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye are seeking to detain the daughter of Park's longtime confidante who faces criminal charges for allegedly extorting companies and manipulating state affairs.

A German prosecution official on Thursday told South Korean media that Germany will cooperate with South Korean investigators in their search for Yoora Chung, the daughter of Park's jailed friend Choi Soon-sil, who is believed to be staying in Germany. An official from the investigation team led by special prosecutor Park Young-soo earlier said it had obtained a warrant to detain Chung and had asked for help from German prosecutors in finding Chung and obtaining evidence, such as financial transaction and phone records.

Choi is under suspicion that she exploited her presidential ties to get Chung, an equestrian athlete, into an elite university despite questionable qualifications. Lee Jae-yong, the scion of Samsung, South Korea's largest business group, has apologized over the use of corporate funds to buy a horse for Chung, but denied that the group was seeking favors from Choi or Park's administration.

South Korea's opposition-controlled parliament on Dec. 9 voted to impeach President Park, who state prosecutors accuse of colluding with Choi in extorting money and favors from the country's largest companies and allowing Choi to interfere with government affairs from the shadows.

The impeachment suspended Park's powers, and the country's Constitutional Court has up to six months to decide whether she should permanently step down or be reinstated.

The independent team led by the special prosecutor began its investigation on Wednesday, which automatically stopped a probe by state prosecutors. South Korean lawmakers last month passed a law that allowed for a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal over concerns that state prosecutors' close ties with presidential officials might inject bias into their probe.

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