Ousted South Korean president Park Geun-Hye was arrested in the early hours of Friday, on charges of bribery, abuse of authority, coercion, and leaking government secrets. After a long hearing on Thursday, a court had said, “It is justifiable and necessary to arrest (Park) as key charges were justified and there is risk of evidence being destroyed.”

She was taken to a detention centre near Seoul, AFP reported.

A spokesperson for the Democratic Party’s leading presidential contender Moon Jae-in praised the arrest, calling it the first step to rebuilding a collapsed nation, The Korean Herald reported. Park’s own party, the Liberty Korea Party, however, said her arrest was “truly regrettable”. In a statement, they hoped that such a “painful history” won’t repeat itself.

Park is the first democratically elected leader to be ousted from office in South Korea. On December 9, the South Korean Parliament had impeached her.

The former president was accused of colluding with Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend and confidante, to extort money in the form of donations from South Korean companies. The money, which was transferred to non-profit foundations controlled by Choi, was allegedly used for personal gains.

Park had also been accused of ordering her aides to leak official state documents to Choi, who has no official position in the South Korean government. There had been large scale protests demanding her removal as president.