South Korean court to decide on Park's arrest

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye was waiting on Thursday for a court's decision on whether she will be arrested in a corruption scandal that has cost her the presidency and gripped the country.

If the court issues the warrant, Park will become the third former president to be arrested over criminal accusations after leaving office since South Korea turned from a dictatorship to a democracy in the late 1980s.

A presidential election will be held on May 9.

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye, second from left, arrives at the Seoul Central District Court for hearing on a prosecutors' request for her arrest for corruption, in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, gets off a vehicle upon arrival at the Seoul Central District Court for hearing on a prosecutors' request for her arrest for corruption, in Seoul, South Korea, Thursda.

Park may be given a bigger cell than other inmates in a Seoul detention facility, but she would be subject to the same rules on everything from meals to room inspections, former prosecution and correctional officials have said.

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March 30: Park attends a court hearing that will decide if she should be arrested on charges including bribery. It's 3:30am now (18:30GMT), and the court hearing ended yesterday evening after a marathon eight hours and 40 minutes hours of arguments about whether this arrest warrant request should be upheld.

If the warrant is granted Park will be formally detained and taken to a detention centre south of the capital, becoming 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.

The Seoul Central District Court's ruling means Park will be taken to a detention center soon.

If Park is arrested, prosecutors will then have up to 20 days to file formal charges and put her on trial.

Earlier in March, Park denied all charges against her during the first questioning period.

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Prosecutors believe Park conspired with Choi and a top presidential adviser to bully 16 business groups, including Samsung, to donate 77.4 billion won ($69 million) for the launch of two nonprofits that Choi controlled.

Prosecutors have said they wanted to arrest Park because the allegations against her are "grave" and because other suspects involved the scandal, including her confidante Choi Soo-sil, have already been arrested.

Last week she underwent a 21-hour interrogation session at the prosecutors' office, having refused repeated requests to be interviewed while in power.

Park's supporters flocked to her home in Seoul on Thursday morning before she was driven to the courthouse. They wept, chanted slogans and tried to block Park's auto before being pushed back by police.

Prosecutors believe Park has committed a broad range of crimes, including extortion, bribery, abuse of power and leaking government secrets.

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Park has repeatedly apologized for the upset caused by the scandal but not admitted any wrongdoing, blaming Choi for abusing their friendship. Choi made similar statements.

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