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Chung Yoo-ra, the 21-year-old daughter of Choi Soon-sil, answers questions from the press after arriving at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Chung Sung-Jun/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY


By Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean court on Saturday denied a prosecutors' request for an arrest warrant for Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of a key figure in a corruption scandal that led to ouster and arrest of ex-president Park Geun-hye.

Chung, 20, fled to Europe last year to avoid being prosecuted by South Korean authorities for her involvement linked to alleged crimes of her mother, Choi Soon-sil, a long-time confidante who is accused of colluding with Park to collect bribes from the country's top businesses.

Choi and Park are currently being held at detention centres undergoing trials for extortion and abuse of power to extort millions of dollars from big companies and pressure them to donate to foundations controlled by Choi.

"With the essential evidence being collected, and her (Chung's) involvement in the scandal has been investigated, it is difficult to acknowledge the reason, necessity, and appropriateness of an arrest at this stage of the investigation," the Seoul Central District Court said in a statement, without elaborating.

Chung dropped her extradition appeal last week in Denmark, where she had been detained, and returned to South Korea on Wednesday.

"As my baby son has not been able to spend time with the family, I thought it would be better for me to return to South Korea to sort out misunderstandings over the scandal," she told reporters upon her arrival in Incheon on Wednesday.       

    She was arrested without a warrant by prosecutors aboard a Korean Air Lines flight en route to South Korea and taken into custody for questioning. She was released early on Saturday morning.

Chung is accused of charges including criminal interference related to her academic record and acceptance into a South Korean university with questionable qualification.

"I never wanted to go to college and I did not even know what my major was since I never went to school," Chung said on Wednesday, adding she will fully cooperate with the investigation.

Prosecutors are expected to reapply for an arrest warrant.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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