President Park's Lawyer Says Prosecution Questioning could Happen Next Week

President Park's Lawyer Says Prosecution Questioning could Happen Next Week

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye's attorney said Thursday he will cooperate with prosecutors so investigators can question his client next week over the latest influence-peddling scandal, effectively rejecting repeated requests for the probe to be carried out as soon as possible.

"I will finish my preparations to represent the president as soon as possible and cooperate so that the questioning can be carried out next week," her lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha said in a press release.

The announcement came amid a tug-of-war between Park's legal representative, who demanded more time for preparation, and the state prosecutors' office, which insisted on completing their questioning this week so they can proceed with the investigation.

Prosecutors here have been accelerating their probe into the scandal surrounding Park's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, with the deadline for her indictment slated for Sunday.

The prosecution, while insisting that the president should undergo face-to-face questioning regarding allegations that she let her friend interfere in state affairs and peddle influence, has delayed the deadline multiple times, which was originally set for Wednesday.

"The president has repeatedly expressed her willingness to cooperate with the prosecution's probe to get to the bottom of this case and her stance remains unchanged, and so is mine," Yoo said in the release.

"I have never said the president will not respond to the prosecution's questioning," he added, referring to the latest press conference he held on Tuesday where he first asked to delay the deadline for the questioning session.

The press briefing drew a public backlash, as it was seen as a reversal of Park's pledge to accept a direct investigation into her and to fully cooperate with the ongoing probe.

"I just conveyed my opinion that I need some time to prepare and that it would be best to question the president in one sitting, after everything is sorted out, considering her status as the incumbent president," Yoo said.

Following Yoo's comments, the prosecution reiterated the president must face questioning by Friday at the latest, saying it must be done before three arrested figures -- Choi, and two former presidential secretaries, An Chong-bum Jeong Ho-seong -- are indicted.'

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