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Seoul blocks search

February 3, 2017

Impeached President Park Geun-Hye faces charges that she let a confidante abuse government to benefit firms. She is due to be interrogated next week.

Südkorea Staatsanwälte werden an Durchsuchung von Park Geun-hyes Residenz gehindert
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Young-joon

Twenty prosecutors withdrew Friday after a five-hour standoff with guards at Seoul's presidential Blue House where officials claimed its military status barred entry to areas with state secrets.

The prosecution team said it would send an entry request to South Korea's prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, who became caretaker leader after Park's powers were suspended last December. She has close ties to Hwang.

Local television stations had shown the prosecutors waiting in cars at a parking lot within mountainside compound while the Blue House said it could hand over documents, but not allow entry.

The prosecution's intention to search the offices of presidential secretaries for civil and economic affairs precedes an interrogation of Park due next week.

South Korea's constitutional court has until June to decide whether to endorse Park's impeachment. In that case, new elections must be held within 60 days.

Park faces allegations that she let her confidante Choi Soon-sil peddled influence and abused powers although she never had any government post.

Choi and several Park presidential advisers faced related charges.

Südkorea Staatsanwälte werden an Durchsuchung von Park Geun-hyes Residenz gehindert
The Blue House is a mountainside compound in SeoulImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Young-joon

ipj/kms (AP, AFP)