SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea's disgraced ex-President Park Geun-hye is likely to be formally indicted early next week and face a criminal trial over a corruption scandal that already led to her removal from office, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Park has been jailed at a detention centre near Seoul since she was arrested late last month amid accusations from prosecutors that she extorted money from businesses, took bribes from one of the companies and committed other wrongdoing, all in collaboration with a secretive confidante.
An official at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said Park will likely be indicted Monday but didn't elaborate on what charges she will face. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
Prosecutors are allowed to detain Park until next Wednesday without indicting her.
If indicted, Park would remain jailed during court proceedings that could last as long as six months. Park could face life imprisonment if charged and convicted of bribery on the scale alleged.
Park is the daughter of late dictator Park Chung-hee. She was elected as South Korea's first female president in late 2012 on the back of overwhelming support from conservatives who remembered her father as a hero who guided the country from poverty in the 1960-70s, despite his record of severe human rights abuses.
The corruption allegations against Park Geun-hye touched off months of massive streets protests that prompted parliament to impeach her in December and the constitutional Court to dismiss her in March.
South Korea is to hold an election on May 9 to choose her successor. Moon Jae-in, a liberal who lost the 2012 election to Park, and his former party member Ahn Cheol-soo, considered as a moderate, are the two front-runners, according to opinion surveys.
Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press