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Samsung heir's arrest raises possibility for extended probe into S.Korean presidential scandal

Xinhua, February 17, 2017 Adjust font size:

Possibility rose for an extended probe by special prosecutors into a scandal embroiling President Park Geun-hye after the arrest of Samsung's heir apparent on Friday.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was taken into custody early in the day as a Seoul court issued an arrest warrant for him, sought by the independent counsel team for a second time.

It is rare that prosecutors request a warrant to detain a suspect for the second time without any new trustworthy evidences. The special prosecutors had conducted further investigations since the first attempt failed on Jan. 19.

The independent counsel team, which was launched on Dec. 21, is scheduled to terminate its investigation by the end of this month unless it is extended.

The team asked Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn Thursday to allow the extension, but the acting president has yet to express his position. Hwang, one of closest aides to the impeached leader, is forecast to deny the independent counsel's request.

Pressures are mounting on Hwang into accepting the request as just 11 days are left for the prosecutors who are independently probing the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park.

The biggest opposition Minjoo Party has submitted a revised law, pending the parliamentary judiciary committee, to extend the special investigation for 50 days. Under the original law, it can be lengthened for up to 30 days.

Welcoming the detention of the Samsung heir as a chance to establish justice and prove a basic principle that all are equal before law, opposition parties demanded the extension of the investigation.

The ruling Liberty Korea Party said the extended probe is not an option, actually objecting to the extension.

According to a Realmeter survey released Thursday, 67.5 percent favored the prolonged investigation by special prosecutors, more than doubling 26.7 percent against it.

It was based on a poll of 506 voters conducted on Wednesday. It has 4.4 percentage points in margin of error. Enditem