South Korean supporters of arrested ex-president to protest

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Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye was behind bars in the Seoul Detention Centre on Friday after her arrest, on charges including bribery, in a corruption scandal that has brought low some of the country's business and political elite.

The Seoul court said it chose to approve Park's arrest because it believes key allegations against her were confirmed and there were worries that she may try to destroy evidence.

"There are considerable reasons and need to arrest (Park) as key charges have been substantiated considerably and concerns over the destruction of evidence still prevail", presiding Judge Kang Bu-young said, approving the prosecution's request to arrest her.

A day earlier, Park was questioned at a court hearing for almost nine hours. "And she will have a bigger cell than those of others", Reuters quoted Kim Kyung-soo, a retired prosecutor who interrogated two ex-leaders, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, in a 1995 treason and bribery case. As the former South Korean president left her home in Seoul to attend the hearing, flag-waving supporters lined the streets; several lay down in the road in an attempt to block her path to court.

Ms Park, daughter of late dictator Park Chung Hee, is the third former leader to be arrested over corruption in Asia's fourth- largest economy, where politics and big business have always been closely tied.

She is the third former president of South Korea to be arrested over criminal charges, Yonhap reports.

Park and Choi both deny wrongdoing.

She is accused of colluding with Choi to receive tens of millions of USA dollars in bribes from Samsung's Vice Chairman Lee.

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Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye gets out of a auto in front of her private residence in Seoul on March 12, two days after she was removed from office due to an impeachment over alleged corruption.

Supporters of former President Park Geun-hye hold national flags during a rally at downtown Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, April 1, 2017. Prosecutors have identified 13 charges that could be leveled against her, including bribery, abuse of power and leaking confidential information.

Elections to appoint a new president are to be held on May 9.

Choi Soon-Sil, Park's secret confidante at the heart of the scandal, is being held at the same centre, as is Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong. Park was questioned for 14 hours by prosecutors last week. She then changed into light-green prison clothes and was locked in a solitary cell, according to a detention center official who didn't want to be named, citing office rules.

Choi is on trial for abuse of power and fraud.

If eventually found guilty, Ms Park would face at least 10 years in prison, legal experts said.

Choi, at the center of the influence-peddling scandal, is also suspected of receiving secret government documents from one of Park's former secretaries on a regular basis to meddle in state affairs behind the scenes.

"It will be hard for [Park's side] to insist they need an outsider to come in and do her hair", Kim said.