Park Geun-hye in court for bribery trial


Park was seen emerging from a Justice Ministry bus in handcuffs before being escorted into the Seoul courtroom by police. It was her first public appearance since she was jailed on March 31.

Presiding judge Kim Se-Yun asked her: “What is your occupation, the accused Park Geun-hye?”  Responded: “I don’t have any occupation.”

Park, who was the country’s first female president, has been charged with extortion, bribery and abuse of power, all in collaboration with longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Prosecutors have accused her of colluding with Choi to take about $26 million (roughly 23 million euros) from the country’s largest companies through bribery. She also allegedly allowed her friend to manipulate state affairs from the shadows, despite Choi having no title or security clearance.

The 18 charges relate to policy favors Park offered to tycoons who bribed her friend of 40 years.

Park Young-soo, who led the special prosecutors who investigated the case, has said the proceedings will be “the trial of the century.”

Park faces more than 10 years in jail if convicted. The trial is expected to last for several months.

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has made her first appearance at her trial for receiving bribes, abuse of power and other charges. She has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

Park was indicted last month after being ousted from office in March.

She faces charges of conspiring with her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to receive bribes worth about 40 million dollars from Samsung Group, the country’s largest industrial conglomerate. This includes sums that were promised.

She is also accused of pressuring private companies to provide funds for two foundations closely associated with Choi.
Park’s trial began earlier this month.

At the start of Tuesday’s session, the presiding judge asked her occupation. Park replied that she was unemployed.

Park’s defense counsel denied all 18 charges brought against her. When the presiding judge sought Park’s response, she said her position is the same as that of her lawyer.

Asked if she had anything else to say, Park said she would speak later, suggesting she will claim her innocence in her own words.

Choi was also present at Tuesday’s trial. She too denied the charges brought against her, and asked the court to clarify the false accusations against Park. She said she does not believe the former president has committed a crime.
Also at the trial was the chairman of South Korea’s Lotte Group, Shin Dong-bin, who is charged with bribing Park. He denied the accusation.

Park is the third South Korean president to appear in court for a criminal trial on corruption, following Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo.

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