S. Korea’s Ex-President Goes on Trial for Corruption

S. Korea’s Ex-President Goes on Trial for CorruptionS. Korea’s Ex-President Goes on Trial for Corruption

Former president, Park Geun-hye, stared straight ahead and denied that she engaged in bribery and leaked government secrets at Tuesday’s start of the criminal trial that could send South Korea’s first female leader to prison for life if convicted.

Police escorted Park, in handcuffs with her eyes downcast, into court for her first public appearance since she was jailed on March 31 based on the corruption allegations that also led to her removal from office, France24 reported.

Cameras flashed as Park emerged from a bus, her inmate number 503 attached to her dark-colored jacket and walked into the Seoul Central District Court. She sat before a three-judge panel.

Her longtime confidante and alleged co-conspirator, Choi Soon-sil, sat near Park. The two women had been friends for four decades, but did not acknowledge each other.

“The accused Park Geun-hye, in collusion with her friend Choi Soon-sil, let Choi, who had no official position, intervene in state affairs ... and they abused power and pressured business companies to offer bribes, thus taking private gains,” said senior prosecutor, Lee Won-seok.

Park’s lawyer, Yoo Young-ha, denied any wrongdoing. Asked whether she had anything to add, Park said in a calm, measured voice: “I will say afterward.”

The judge also directly asked Park whether she denies all charges.

“Yes,” Park replied, “I have the same position as the lawyers.”

Kim, the judge, said the court decided to combine Park’s and Choi’s cases and that it will reach a “fair decision in accordance with the constitution and laws”.

Park’s lawyers had demanded the cases to be split, saying that the combined hearings could create bias. The next hearing was set for Thursday.

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