Lawyers of South Korea
’s former president Park Geun-hye, who has been in custody for more than a month, have denied the corruption charges which led to her ouster from office in March.
“We deny all the charges,” Park’s top lawyer Yoo Young-ha told the Seoul Central District Court at the first preliminary hearing of the trial on Tuesday.
Park, who is held in solitary confinement, was absent from the hearing as her presence was not mandatory. The court is to hold two or three more preliminary sessions before opening the first formal hearing in June.
Prosecutors had submitted 120,000 pages of documents to the judge and more time is needed to go over them, Yoo said.
Last month, Park was indicted on a number of charges, including abuse of power, coercion and leak of confidential information.
She has been replaced by her Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
The former president is accused of letting her now-jailed confidante Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs and gain unauthorized access to classified documents.
Choi Soon-Sil (C), the jailed confidante of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, appears on the first day of her trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul on January 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Park’s accusations also include offering policy favors to the top businessmen who enriched Choi, including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, who was arrested earlier and is also on trial for bribery.
She also stands accused of coercing local conglomerates into donating a total of 77.4 billion won (68 million dollars) to two non-profit foundations.
The ex-South Korean leader, 65, became the country’s first democratically elected leader to be dismissed from office on March 10, when the Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary impeachment vote against her.
Protesters rally for and against the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye, in central Seoul on February 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Her removal triggered months of turmoil, as hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets, week after week, to protest a sprawling corruption scandal that shook the top echelons of business and government.
Park has denied wrongdoing but publicly apologized several times for carelessness in her ties with Choi, who has also denied the accusations against herself.