Whether they can arrest Ms. Park, who was removed from office in a historic court ruling this month, will depend on whether the Seoul District Court will issue an arrest warrant. If arrested, Ms. Park would be the first former South Korean leader put behind bars since two former military dictators were imprisoned on corruption and mutiny charges in the mid-1990s.
On Monday, prosecutors formally asked the court for the warrant. It usually takes several days before the court studies evidence and decides whether an arrest warrant is justified.
Prosecutors have been discussing whether they have enough evidence to apply for an arrest warrant since they questioned her for more than 20 hours last week.
On Monday, prosecutors accused Ms. Park of conspiring with a longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to collect tens of millions of dollars from big businesses, including more than $38 million in bribes from Samsung. Both Ms. Choi and Samsung’s top executive, Lee Jae-yong, have been arrested and indicted on bribery charges and a number of other criminal charges.
On Dec. 9, the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to impeach Ms. Park on charges of corruption and abuse of power, and she was formally removed from office on March 10.
Ms. Park was the first South Korean leader to be forced from office in response to popular pressure since the country’s founding president, Syngman Rhee, fled into exile in Hawaii in 1960 after protests against his corrupt, authoritarian rule.
Since she took office in early 2013, Ms. Park had been dogged by allegations that Ms. Choi was influencing government affairs from the shadows — and using her connections with the president for personal gain. On Monday, Ms. Park was also accused of leaking secret government documents to Ms. Choi, who had no clearance for handling them, to help her influence state affairs for her personal gains.
But she has vehemently denied any legal wrongdoing, although most South Koreans consider her removal a crucial step toward ending what they see as corrupt ties between government and big business, a bane of South Korea’s young democracy.
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