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South Korea indicts ex-presidential aide in scandal inquiry

SEOUL — South Korean prosecutors said Sunday that they have indicted a former senior aide to impeached President Park Geun-hye in their investigation into the massive political scandal that led to Park’s downfall.

Prosecutors in Seoul indicted Cho Won-dong, a former senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, for allegedly working with Park in an unsuccessful attempt to force the vice chairman of a Seoul-based conglomerate to quit, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The opposition-controlled Parliament passed an impeachment motion against Park on Friday, stripping her of her presidential duties and pushing Prime Minster Hwang Kyo-ahn into the role as government caretaker until the Constitutional Court rules whether she must step down permanently.

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The impeachment came after millions of people demonstrated for weeks demanding the removal of Park, who prosecutors accuse of colluding with a longtime friend to extort money and favors from South Korea’s biggest companies and to give that confidante extraordinary sway over government decisions.

Park has apologized for putting trust into her friend, Choi Soon-sil, but has denied any legal wrongdoing.

Prosecutors also said Sunday that they have indicted Kim Chong, a former vice culture minister, on charges of colluding with Choi and her niece to force companies to donate large sums of money to a sports foundation established by the niece, Yonhap reported.

Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Massive crowds formed on Seoul’s streets Saturday, a day after lawmakers voted in favor of removing the president.

The vote for impeachment left protesters basking in pride, believing they had repaired a damaged democracy with their weekly demonstrations.

Thousands of people marched Saturday near streets close to the presidential palace, where Park will remain for up to six months until the court rules whether she must step down permanently.

Carrying signs, flags and yellow balloons, they gleefully shouted for her to quit immediately rather than weather the court process.

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