March 17, 2017 / 9:07 AM / 3 years ago

Denmark orders extradition of daughter of ousted South Korean president's friend

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark will extradite to South Korea the daughter of the central figure in an influence-peddling scandal that led to the ouster of its president, the Danish public prosecutor said on Friday, but her lawyer said she will fight the order in court.

Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye who is at the center of the South Korean political scandal involving Park, arrives for her first court hearing in Seoul, South Korea, December 19, 2016. Korea Pool/via REUTERS

South Korea has been thrown into political turmoil by the widening corruption and influence-peddling scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil, and will now gear up for an early May election to choose a successor for Park.

Chung Yoo-ra, a 20-year-old dressage rider and daughter of Choi, “is to be extradited for the purpose of prosecution in her home country,” the public prosecutor said in a press release.

Choi is accused of colluding with Park to pressure large South Korean businesses to contribute to non-profit foundations. Both Choi and Park have denied wrongdoing.

Chung has been accused of criminal interference related to her academic record.

South Korean authorities have also been investigating whether Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) channeled money to a German firm controlled by Choi to sponsor Chung’s equestrian career in return for favors from Choi and Park.

Chung’s lawyer told Reuters that she will challenge the public prosecutor’s decision to extradite her all the way through the courts if necessary.

“We had hoped for a different outcome, but on the other hand, it was to be expected. Now we will bring it to the courts and fight it there,” lawyer Peter Martin Blinkenberg told Reuters.

Blinkenberg said earlier this week that Chung was ready to claim political asylum in Denmark as she fears for her safety if she’s forced to return home. Chung was arrested by Danish police in northern Denmark on Jan. 1.

Deputy Director Mohammad Ahsan from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said in a news release that the South Korean Authorities had answered questions from the Danish prosecutor to help them decide on the extradition request.

“I know that the case has been subject to great attention in South Korea. Therefore, I am pleased that there has been a prevalent understanding of the fact that the case has taken the necessary time, for it to be handled both thoroughly and in accordance with our legislation,” Ahsan said.

Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing by Jason Neely and Hugh Lawson

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