South Korea’s special prosecution asked a court to allow it to search the presidential office as part of a corruption probe of President Park Geun-hye after investigators were denied entry by her aides last week.
The probe team submitted the request on Friday to the Seoul Administration Court, seeking the suspension of the presidential officials’ disapproval of the search, the court and the prosecution said.
Independent Counsel Park Young-soo also filed a lawsuit with the same court against Park’s chief of staff and chief security officer to nullify the decision to block the prosecutors’ entry into the Cheong Wa Dae’s premises, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The investigators tried to execute a court-issued search warrant on February 3 seeking to secure evidence ahead of a face-to-face questioning of President Park.
Independent counsel spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told reporters that if the request is accepted, it would deprive the presidential office of an excuse to block the investigators.
The raid into Cheong Wa Dae will become impossible if the suit is turned down by the court, the spokesman added.
The special prosecutors can request an extra 30 days for their investigation with consent from Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, but Hwang has been refraining from making a clear remark on whether he will approve the request.
Park, awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision on her ouster, has been suspended from exercising presidential powers since the parliament voted to impeach her in December.
She is accused of letting her friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs and gain personal profits using her ties to the president.
Special prosecutors also named President Park as an accomplice in her former aides’ blacklisting of cultural figures deemed critical of the government, though she has been flatly denying the allegations.
Park’s former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and Ex-Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun were indicted on Tuesday on charges of abuse of authority and coercion for allegedly creating and managing the list to deny those artists state support.