Park faces a wide range of charges, including coercion and leaking confidential information
There will be an election to choose a new South Korean president on May 9
Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been officially indicted on a number of charges including abuse of power, prosecutors confirmed Monday.
A historic leader from a South Korean political dynasty, Park was forced from office in March amid a massive corruption scandal that engulfed not just her government but major international companies such as Samsung and Lotte Group.
Now the disgraced former leader will be made to defend allegations of coercion, attempted coercion, receiving and demanding bribes, and leaking confidential information.
The Constitutional Court upheld Park’s impeachment by South Korea’s National Assembly on March 10, removing the president from office and leaving her open to prosecution.
Park was arrested by South Korean authorities on March 30.
Judge Kang Bu-young, who issued the warrant for the former leader’s arrest, told reporters by text message in late March that “major crimes have been ascertained.”
The political career of Park Geun-hye
Fall from power
The daughter of controversial former leader Park Chung-hee, the younger Park’s election as South Korea’s first female president in 2012 was hailed as historic at the time.
Under Park’s leadership, South Korea moved even closer to the United States, including an agreement to deploy the THAAD missile defense system to the Korean peninsula despite China and North Korea’s strong objections.
Her rapid fall from power followed reports in late 2016 that her close confidante, Choi Soon-sil, used her position to raise large donations from South Korean companies for foundations Choi had set up.
Choi, Lotte and Samsung all deny the allegations.
Three televised apologies by Park couldn’t stop the public outrage, which led to enormous protests in the capital Seoul.
Less than three months after the scandal emerged, Park was impeached by a vote of 234 to 56 in the South Korean National Assembly.
New president to be chosen
South Korea is expected to move to the left when the country elects a new president on May 9.
With three weeks to go, Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in is leading most major polls.
A left-leaning administration could have major consequences for South Korea’s foreign policy, including restarting negotiations with North Korea.
Moon’s party has also been critical of the THAAD agreement and suggested it should be renegotiated, saying Park should have sought the approval of the National Assembly before deployment began.
Until a new president is chosen, Hwang Kyo-ahn will remain the acting leader of South Korea.
United States Vice President Mike Pence met with Hwang during his visit to South Korea on Monday, commending him for his “steady hand in this time of transition in South Korea.”
“Whatever change happens in your elections the commitment of the United States to South Korea’s safety and security will remain unchanged,” Pence said at a joint press conference.
CNN’s Taehoon Lee contributed to this report.