Prosecutors in standoff at S Korea president's office 

Members of the media wait for a team of prosecutors to attempt to enter the presidential Blue House in Seoul on February 3, 2017.
PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - South Korean prosecutors investigating a massive corruption scandal engulfing impeached President Park Geun-Hye attempted to raid the presidential Blue House on Friday, sparking a stand-off with security guards. 

It was the first time investigators had sought to search the top security complex for evidence since Park was impeached by parliament in December over the influence-peddling and power abuse scandal. 

A platoon of prosecutors wielding a court search warrant and their assistants were immediately stopped by security guards as they tried to enter the premises. 

They have no legal means to enforce the search at the Blue House unless allowed in by the president, as the complex is considered a top military security zone, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. 

A presidential spokesman said the Blue House was profoundly opposed to the search but was willing to present documents and other materials prosecutors wanted to look over. 

Negotiations were continuing hours after the prosecution team arrived. 

Park is accused of colluding with a longtime friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to strong-arm donations worth tens of millions of dollars from top firms to dubious foundations controlled by Choi. 

The president is also accused of using her influence to ensure the merger of two Samsung units in 2015 to help facilitate a father-to-son power succession of Samsung's founding family, allegedly in return for bribes given to Choi. 

The prosecutors' action comes as prosecutors plan to interrogate Park face-to-face next week. 

The Constitutional Court has until June to decide whether to approve the impeachment, in which case new elections must be held within 60 days, or reinstate her.

The ‘female Rasputin’ at centre of S Korean President Park Geun-Hye political scandal

  • South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is facing calls to resign over allegations she allowed a close personal friend to meddle in state affairs.
  • People watch a television news report showing South Korean President Park Geun-Hye making a public apology, at a railway station in Seoul on October 25, 2016.
  • South Korean President Park Geun-hye bows after releasing a statement of apology to the public during a news conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, October 25, 2016.
  • South Korea’s presidential office said on Saturday it was cooperating with prosecutors’investigation into key aides to President Park Geun-hye over allegations an old friend of hers enjoyed inappropriate influence over her.
  • Prosecutors’ request for presidential Blue House documents came ahead of an evening protest expected to draw thousands in central Seoul calling for Park’s resignation amid a scandal that has cast her presidency into crisis.
  • A woman attends a protest denouncing President Park Geun-hye over a recent influence-peddling scandal in central Seoul
  • Protestors hang a caricature showing South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) and her confidante Choi Soon-Sil (C), on a board during a rally denouncing a scandal over President Park's aide in Seoul on October 27, 2016.
  • South Korean prosecutors on October 27 set up a high-powered "task-force" to probe a widening scandal involving alleged influence-peddling by a close confidante of President Park Geun-Hye. Choi Soon-Sil, an enigmatic woman with no government position, was already part of an investigation into allegations that she used her relationship with the president to strong-arm conglomerates into multi-million dollar donations to two non-profit foundations.
  • Park’s office said late on Friday she had ordered her senior secretaries to tender their resignations, and she will reshuffle the office in the near future. Her chief of staff separately offered to resign earlier, the office said.
  • The deepening crisis over allegations that Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, enjoyed inappropriate influence over her has sent her public support to an all-time low, with more than 40 percent in an opinion poll saying Park should resign or be impeached.

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