Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

S.Korea's Park leaves court after start of trial

Frank Williams | 29 May, 2017, 02:33

A South Korean court has begun the criminal trial in which disgraced ex-President Park Geun-hye is being prosecuted on bribery and other charges.

Prosecutors accuse her of bribery, coercion, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

She responded: "I don t have any occupation". Other South Korean media carried a similar report.

1963: Park moves to the presidential Blue House after her father becomes president, two years after he staged a coup and took control of the country. The next hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

While Park was replying, Choi sobbed.

"I think Park must be punished thoroughly and never be pardoned so that such a bad thing may never happen again".

If found guilty of taking bribes from business leaders including Samsung Group scion Jay Y. Lee, one of the key accusations that led to her impeachment, Park faces more than 10 years in jail.

During a televised apology in October, Ms. Park described Ms. Choi as a close friend who "helped her during hard times in the past".

Park has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty at the trial and her lawyers rejected the 18 charges against her in pre-trial proceedings.

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She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, who seized the presidency in 1961 and was assasinated eight years later.

Cosy and corrupt ties between South Korea's business and political elites have endured for decades and the trial could shed new light on the links between Park and the bosses of the family-run conglomerates that dominate Asia's fourth-biggest economy. They were charged with taking bribes worth about 59.2 billion won (52 million US dollars) from large conglomerates including Samsung, Lotte and SK.

In addition, ex-president Roh Moo-Hyun - the mentor of new leader Moon Jae-In - killed himself after being questioned over graft.

She was in the country's highest elected office less than eight months ago when her corruption allegations first surfaced in October.

The trial takes place at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea's escalating nuclear programme, which has seen a succession of missile tests in recent days.

Park was arrested on March 31, three weeks after she was removed from office by a Constitutional Court ruling and after a warrant judge decided she posed a flight risk and was likely to tamper with evidence.

She sat down and fixed her hard gaze on a spot in front of her. Park's face betrayed no hint of whatever emotions roiled within, even as flashes exploded and a horde of cameras zoomed in for extreme close-ups that were piped to millions of curious South Koreans. The two are also accused of pressuring companies to donate to charities controlled by Choi. However, legal experts say prosecutors must clearly prove that Park and Choi were connected economically as Samsung's alleged bribes went to Choi, not directly to Park.

May 9, 2017: Park's rival, Moon, wins a presidential by-election to choose her successor.


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