South Korea's Blue House Blocks Prosecutors' Search
Feb 03 2017 by Joanne Wise
The Blue House did not explain why a search would undermine the national interest, prosecution spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said. The prosecutors were told that Blue Houses' military status restricted their entry to areas with state secrets.
"According to criminal law, we arrived at the conclusion we can not force our search if the subject refuses", a spokesman for the special prosecutor, Lee Kyu-chul, told a media briefing.
The search and seizure was conducted to get necessary materials for the probe into allegations over bribery involving Samsung Group, South Korea's largest family-run conglomerate, and the official development assistance (ODA) projects involving Park's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil. But Blue House officials didn't let them in, saying they were able to hand over documents to prosecutors, but not give them entrance.
The special prosecution team is now considering raising the issue with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who has also been acting president since Park's presidential powers were suspended because of an impeachment vote at the parliament last December.
Park is also accused of allowing Choi to exert inappropriate influence over state affairs.
Television stations showed the prosecutors waiting inside cars in a parking lot within the Blue House compound.
Lee, the spokesman for the special prosecutor's team, said investigators would question the president in person, regardless of the outcome of their effort to search her office.
The independent counsel team said that some offices of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) in Seoul and those of the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in Sejong were raided early morning, Xinhua news agency reported.
A spokeswoman for FSC said that the raid was linked to prosecutors' suspicion that the Samsung Group had provided bribes to Park and Choi for favours regarding its businesses.
South Korea's constitutional court has until June to decide whether to endorse Park's impeachment.