Friend of South Korea's Park denies charges

Updated: Dec 20, 2016, 09:44 IST | Agencies |

A friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the centre of a corruption scandal that led to Park's impeachment in parliament denied charges of fraud and abuse of power yesterday on the first day of her trial

Choi Soon-Sil arrives for her trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Monday. Pic/AFP

Seoul: A friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the centre of a corruption scandal that led to Park's impeachment in parliament denied charges of fraud and abuse of power yesterday on the first day of her trial.

The friend, Choi Soon-sil (60), who had not appeared in public since arriving at a prosecutors' office on October 31, was led into court by two correctional officers, her head down, wearing a bulky grey prison suit with a number on her chest.

She is charged with pressuring big businesses to pay money to foundations that backed Park's policy initiatives. Prosecutors have named Park as an accomplice, although she has immunity from prosecution while in office.

In a brief hearing, Choi denied all charges brought against her by prosecutors. Her lawyer argued that Choi did not collude with Park or other defendants in the case, and also denied the fraud charge. "I need to clarify the facts now," Choi was quoted as telling the court by Yonhap News Agency. She spoke very softly and she was barely audible in her brief comments.

Choi also said she did not want a jury trial. Her lead lawyer, Lee Kyung-jae, said, "We stressed that there was no collusion between Choi and An Chong-bum (one of Park's former aides) and the president, and we look forward to having an intense examination over this point."

The next hearing is set for December 29.

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