SEOUL (Reuters) - Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye appeared before prosecutors on Tuesday to face questioning as a criminal suspect in a corruption investigation that has cost her the presidency.
Park, 65, becomes the country’s first democratically elected leader to be ousted from office, when, on March 10, the Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary impeachment vote. A presidential election will be held on May 9.
Park has not been charged but prosecutors have accused her of bribery and abuse of power. She has denied wrongdoing.
Following is a timeline of main developments in the scandal and events in her life and political career.
1974: Park’s mother is killed by a bullet fired by a pro-North Korea assassin trying to kill her father, President Park Chung-hee. Park became acting first lady.
1979: Park’s father is assassinated by his disgruntled spy chief.
1998: Park returns to political life after years of seclusion. She becomes a member of parliament with a vow to save the country suffering from an Asian financial crisis.
2004: Park becomes leader of the main conservative party which scores an upset victory in parliamentary elections.
2006: An assailant slashes Park’s cheek with a knife during an election rally.
2012: Park wins her party’s primary to become presidential candidate and defeats liberal candidate Moon Jae-in.
Feb 25, 2013: Park is sworn in as the first female president of South Korea, promising an era of hope.
April 16, 2014: The sinking of the Sewol ferry with the death of 304 people, most of them school children. The toll is attributed to the Park government’s failure to act quickly.
Oct 25, 2016: Park makes her first public apology for giving a friend, Choi Soon-sil, access to draft speeches during the first months of her presidency.
Oct 31, 2016: State prosecutors arrest Choi on suspicion of exerting inappropriate influence over state affairs.
Nov 4, 2016: Park makes her second televised apology, saying she would take responsibility if found guilty.
Nov 20, 2016: Prosecutors indict Choi on charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud.
Nov 29, 2016: In her third televised apology, Park asks parliament to decide how and when she could give up power over the scandal.
Dec 9, 2016: Parliament votes to impeach Park. She is stripped of powers while awaiting a court decision on the vote. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn becomes acting president.
Jan 1, 2017: Park denies wrongdoing, calling accusations “fabrication and falsehood”.
Feb 17: Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee arrested for suspected role in the scandal.
Feb 28: Special prosecutor indicts Lee and other company executives for bribery and embezzlement.
March 6: The special prosecutor says Park colluded with Choi to take bribes from the Samsung Group, paving the way for her to be prosecuted, if she is ousted from office.
March 9: Lee’s trial begins on charges of bribery and embezzlement. He was indicted on charges including pledging 43 billion won ($37.24 million) in payments to Choi.
March 10: Constitutional Court upholds parliament’s vote to impeach Park, removing her from office.
March 21: Park appears at prosecutors’ office as a suspect to answer questions over suspected bribery and abuse of power.
Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Robert Birsel, Jack Kim and Gopakumar Warrier