Charges of bribery are what could end up linking Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and President Park Geun-hye.
Lee is accused of giving money to entities controlled by Choi Soon-sil in exchange for President Park's support of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
In the impeachment trial, President Park's legal team has argued that the fact Lee Jae-yong was not arrested last month demonstrated there was no basis for a bribery charge against the President either.
That defense no longer applies. But legal experts differ on what effect, if any, Lee's arrest will have on the trial of the President.
KANG Shin-up, Attorney
"The court approved the arrest of Lee Jae-yong based on new evidence related to Samsung cross-shareholding, Samsung buying a horse for Chung Yoo-ra, the IPO of Samsung Biologics, and so on. The bribery charge itself does not prove a direct link, but it does advance the idea of a connection between the two that might not help the President. Of course, it could also somewhat affect the dispositions of the Constitutional Court justices."
But some legal experts say the trial is not likely to be affected by Lee's arrest.
"The charge of bribery plays a relatively small role in the impeachment trial, in which the President is accused of abuse of power, among other things. On top of that, an arrest is not a conviction, and the newly evidence in the Samsung Vice Chairman's case is unlikely to be used in the impeachment trial."
The Presidential Office of Cheong Wa Dae said it remains unclear what evidence the led to the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, and that the charges against Lee are not related to President Park's impeachment.
The final hearing in the impeachment trial is set for next Friday, February 24th.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News.