South Korean prosecutors request arrest warrant for former president

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The court's decision on issuing a warrant for arrest is expected early Friday, Yonhap reported.

Prosecutors originally meant to question Lee only once to honor his status as former president. "I hope that I will be the last former president to stand here". "We explained the unavoidable need for his arrest, and also that there is a great risk of him destroying evidence since he has denied even basic facts related to the allegations".

Prosecutors have been looking into fresh suspicions that Lee received about 200 million won in bribes ahead of the 2007 presidential election from a Buddhist monk seeking Lee's influence in establishing a Buddhist university.

In the warrant request, prosecutors stated that Lee is the real owner of auto parts company DAS, which he is believed to have used to hide his assets as well as create secret slush funds.

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The prosecutors, after interviewing Lee for hours last week, are accusing him of the theft of millions of dollars from the country's intelligence agency, business groups and a former lawmaker.

Lee will be the second former president in South Korean history to face court review for an arrest warrant since the system was established in 1997.

In response, Lee's office said he "cannot accept the charges outlaid by the state prosecutors" and he planned to "fight with full-fledged effort to get the truth out at court".

"As a former president, I have a lot to say about this but I will spare my words", he told reporters when he arrived for the interrogation.

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Lee's own predecessor, the liberal Roh Moo-hyun, committed suicide by jumping off a cliff after being questioned over corruption allegations in 2009.

A prosecution official contacted by AFP declined to comment on the report.

Both their sentences were reduced on appeal, and they were eventually pardoned and released after serving about two years each.

She also faces suspicion she received an Hermes bag containing$30,000 from a USA -based Korean businesswoman months before the 2007 presidential election.

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