FILE - In this June 13, 2016, file photo, South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 20th National Assembly at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. Hundreds of police officers, reporters and supporters of the ousted president have gathered near her Seoul home in anticipation of her return from the presidential palace. An official from the presidential Blue House said Sunday, March 12, 2017, that there was a possibility that Park would leave during the evening, two days after the country’s Constitutional Court removed her from office over a corruption scandal. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Ousted South Korean president prepares to return home

March 12, 2017 - 5:44 am

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hundreds of police officers, reporters and supporters of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye gathered near her Seoul home on Sunday in anticipation of her return from the presidential palace.

An official from the presidential Blue House said there was a possibility that Park would leave in the evening, two days after the country's Constitutional Court removed her from office over a corruption scandal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing presidential office rules.

Workers were seen carrying a television, washing machine, bed and other household items into Park's private home.

The Constitutional Court formally removed Park from office on Friday, upholding an impeachment motion filed by lawmakers in December amid suspicions that she colluded with a confidante to extort money and favors from companies and allowed the friend to secretly manipulate state affairs.

The ruling ended a power struggle that had consumed the nation for months and marked a stunning downfall for Park, who convincingly defeated her liberal opponent in 2012 with overwhelming support from older South Koreans, who remembered her dictator father as a hero.

Park no longer has immunity from prosecution and will likely soon face a direct investigation over suspicions of extortion, bribery, abuse of power and other crimes.

She has not made a public statement since Friday's court ruling. She earlier apologized for putting trust in her jailed friend, Choi Soon-sil, but strongly denied any legal wrongdoing.

South Korea now has to elect a new president by early May. Opinion polls show liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in 2012, as the favorite to become the country's next leader.

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