The office of South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has denied prosecutors access to the president’s residence for a search as part of investigations into a major corruption scandal.
Special prosecutors investigating the scandal are pressing to question the embattled president and search the presidential Blue House for information surrounding the controversy that has led to her impeachment by parliament in December last year.
Park’s office on Thursday rejected bids to conduct a search at her residence, arguing that a law blocks most searches in locations holding state secrets.
The scandal in South Korea revolves around Choi Soon-sil, a friend of President Park’s. The former woman has been detained and is being tried over accusations that she interfered in government policy-making by abusing her friendship with the president.
She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and in a recent appearance at the special prosecutor’s office, she shouted to reporters that she was giving forced confessions of colluding with Park in the alleged influence peddling.
Choi was taken into the special prosecutor’s office on an arrest warrant after her refusal to respond to several summons for questioning.
The South Korean Constitutional Court is, meanwhile, holding deliberations on whether to uphold the legislative impeachment vote against Park.
Judges sitting on the Constitutional Court panel are expected to issue a verdict next month although they have until May to do so. The ruling is essential to determine the president’s fate. If confirmed, Park would be ousted and an election would be called within 60 days. If not, she would be reinstated.