, Copenhagen, Denmark, Jan 2 – The daughter of Choi Soon-Sil, the woman at the centre of a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea’s president, has been arrested in Denmark after months in hiding, Danish police said Monday.
Chung Yoo-Ra, the 20-year-old daughter of the woman dubbed South Korea’s “Rasputin”, is one of the figures in the influence-peddling scandal that sparked massive street protests demanding the removal of President Park Geun-Hye.
After a tip-off from a South Korean journalist, Chung was arrested Sunday night in the northern Danish town of Aalborg for overstaying her visa, Danish police said in a statement.
The Aalborg district court ruled that Chung would be detained for four weeks while it was decided whether she would be extradited to South Korea.
During the court hearing she denied any wrongdoing and said that her mother on three different occasions had simply shown her “some documents” that she had signed, according to Danish news agency Ritzau.
Chung had “tearfully” asked the court not to detain her, saying she was worried about her 19-month-old son who was staying with a nanny, it said.
The equestrian, who has reportedly bought horses and trained in Denmark in the past, told police that she was in the country due to her involvement in the sport.
She was aware that South Korean authorities wanted to talk to her, they said.
Police later transferred the case to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which handles extradition requests from other countries.
“We are already in dialogue with the South Korean Ministry of Justice, and we have asked them to send a formal extradition request, which will then be assessed,” deputy director Mohammad Ahsan said in a statement.
– University scandal –
Choi, a secret confidante of Park, is accused of using her ties with the president to force top firms including Samsung to “donate” nearly $70 million (67 million euros) to non-profit foundations which Choi then used as her personal ATMs.
She is also accused of using her influence to secure her daughter’s admission to an elite Seoul university, with a state probe revealing the school had admitted Chung at the expense of other candidates with better qualifications.
The revelation touched a raw nerve in education-obsessed South Korea and prosecutors sought to question Chung over her admission to Ewha Women’s University in 2014.
Park stands accused of colluding with Choi to extract money from the firms and also of letting her meddle in state affairs including nominating top officials. The president denies all charges against her.
Parliament voted on December 9 to impeach Park over the scandal and her executive powers have been handed to an acting president, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn.
The impeachment case is being considered by the Constitutional Court, which has up to six months to reach a ruling.
Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans have joined weekly protests calling for Park’s immediate departure from office.
If the impeachment is confirmed, a presidential election will have to be held within 60 days.
Choi, daughter of a controversial religious figure who was close to Park until his death in 1994, is awaiting trial on charges including coercion and abuse of power.
Several professors at Ewha Women’s University, including a former school president, have been investigated for giving Chung preferential treatment.
One professor was arrested over the weekend for allegedly giving Chung a good grade for a class she never attended and for forcing his teaching assistants to forge exam records for her.
Top Samsung managers were also investigated as part of the scandal, following accusations the firm indirectly bankrolled Chung’s equestrian training in Germany in a bid to curry favour.