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Chung Yoo-Ra Extradition Case

Denmark is awaiting Seoul's extradition request for Choi Soon-sil's daughter


Chung Yoo-ra, an equestrian dressage team champion, was arrested for her alleged ties to a corruption scandal that paralysed the South Korean government.

Denmark is currently waiting for a formal request from Seoul in order to extradite Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Choi Soon-sil. Chung Yoo-ra is the woman at the centre of a huge corruption scandal. The corruption scandal has led to Park Geun-hye, the Korean president, being impeachment.

According to a top extradition lawyer, early on Monday 2nd January, Chung Yoo-ra was arrested. She was arrested in the northern Danish city of Aalborg. The arrest came after South Korean police sent a request to Interpol, asking for their help to find Chung Yoo-ra after she failed to return home for questioning. She was supposed to return to be question about her alleged ties to the scandal.

Chung Yoo-ra, is 20 years of age and was formerly a member of the South Korean, national equestrian team. When arrested she was with three other adults and a child. Chung Yoo-ra was detained and charges of being in Denmark illegally were brought against her. The police held that she will be detained until a decision has been made on her extradition.

Park was impeached in December 2016 by the South Korean parliament. There was public fury over investigators’ claims that Park had conspired to allow Choi, Chung Yoo-ra’s mother, and a longstanding confidante, to extort companies and also meddle in affairs of state, this included the appointments of top officials.

The political scandal has left Park fighting to retain her office. She became president four years ago, making her the first female president. She drew hundreds of thousands of protestors on to the streets weekly for demonstrations in Seoul.

Chung Yoo-ra, who trained in equestrian dressage in Germany, won a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games. She is suspected of having taken advantage of her mother’s relationship with Park that had spanned forty years. She is believed to have received special treatment from Seoul’s prestigious Ewha Womans University because of Park’s influence. She was admitted above other candidates, candidates who had better qualifications then her.

According to top extradition lawyers, Chung Yoo-ra is wanted in South Korea on the alleged crime of criminal interference, the alleged crime is in connection with her academic record and also other unspecified charges. Lee Chul-sung who is the head of the Korean National Police Agency has stated in a media conference in Seoul, that Chung Yoo-ra’s emergency extradition is being sought.

Seoul’s foreign ministry had been working to attempt to cancel Chung Yoo- ra’s passport for some time. The Danish police have had only 24 hours to secure evidence which proved Chung Yoo-ra was staying illegally in Denmark. The two countries have an extradition treaty in place.

The corruption scandal is centred around the accusations that Park and Choi Soon-sil granted favours to South Korean companies. The favours are alleged to be in exchange for their “donations” of nearly $70m to non-profit foundations which were controlled by Choi Soon-sil. Choi Soon-sil has been referred to as South Korea’s “female Rasputin” for the influence she is alleged to have had over political affairs.

One area that the investigation into Park and Choi Soon-sil highlighted was the claim that Samsung, the electronics giant, had sought favours with the President and her long-time friend. The favours were supposedly Samsung’s support of the state pension service, as they were a major shareholder. This was supposedly in return for funding from the government for a number of their initiatives.

The investigation also looked into the involvement Samsung had in Chung Yoo-ra’s riding carer. Samsung supposedly bankrolled Chung Yoo-ra’s carer in order to curry favour with her mother and the President. Accorording to Chung Yoo-ra’s top extradition lawyer she was in Denmark for equestrian related work, not to avoid questioning.

Currently, the Danish police are holding five people in custody, this includes Chung Yoo-ra and two men in their late twenties, a woman in her sixties and a child. Chung Yoo-ra has a young son and it is expected that the young child in custody is hers.

Lee Kyung-jae, who is a lawyer representing both Choi Soon-sil and Chung Yoo-ra, has stated that the daughter has agreed to cooperate. In a statement to Yonhap News Agency, Kyung-jae said that when Chung Yoo-ra returns he will ensure that Chung Yoo-ra cooperates fully with the special prosecution’s investigation.

Chung Yoo-ra’s arrest papers occurred a day after Park broke her month long silence. Park’s father ruled South korea for 18 years, he had seized power after a coup in 1961. Park had remained silent for a month over the alleged role in the influence scandal. Park denied all wrongdoing and rejected all accusations that have been brought against her stating they are all fabricated.

Park has refused to discuss in detail about the allegations against her, except to say that she was completely framed.  Park has apologised for her relationship with Choi Soon- sil, and the issues it has presented. The President has been impeached, according to a top extradition lawyer, this must either be confirmed or overruled by June 2017.

Park’s made her last public appearance on the 29th November 2016, at this appearance she offered to step down if parliament were able to agree on her exit from office. Member of the opposition parties, along with a number of members from her own Saenuri party, began the motion for her impeachment on the 9th December 2016.

If impeached, Park will be the first democratically elected president of South Korea to have been forced out before the end of their term. Park’s powers have been intermittently given to Prime Minister Hwang Kwo-Ahn, the acting President. In order for Park to be impeached at least six of the nine judges of the constitutional court must choose to impeach at the presidential election which will be held within sixty days. If six judges choose not to impeach, she will be restored with all of her powers until February 2018, the end of her term.