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South Korean court approves arrest of Samsung heir in corruption scandal inquiry

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-Yong has been under investigation for bribery and embezzlement. The scandal already caused the impeachment of President Park-Geun-hye.

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Samsung heir arrested in corruption probe

A South Korean court approved an arrest warrant for the heir to Samsung Electronics after questioning him and another company executive in connection with a massive corruption scandal that has also rocked South Korea's government. Lee has been held in a detention center since the interrogation that took place earlier in the day. 

After a day of closed-door questioning of the suspects, a Seoul Central District Court spokesperson said "it is acknowledged that it is necessary to arrest (Lee Jae-Yong) in light of a newly added criminal charge and new evidence." The announcement reverses a court's decision from last month that blocked a previous attempt to arrest Lee due to insignificant evidence.

The special prosecutor's office had sought a second arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, who is also the head of the Korean Equestrian Federation. However, the court declined to issue it.

Prosecutors accuse the 48-year-old Lee of offering bribes of $36 million (33.9 million Euros) to South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil in order to secure government support for a company merger. 

Parliament impeached President Park in December in relation to the scandal, and the Constitutional Court is reviewing whether to uphold her impeachment. All accused parties deny wrongdoing.

cmb/kl (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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