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Bribery trial starts for South Korea's Park

May 23, 2017

Supporters of disgraced former President Park Geun-hye have rallied outside a Seoul court as her corruption trial got underway. Park, who was impeached in December, is also charged with extortion and abuse of power.

Park Geun-hye  in Seoul
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Kim Hong-ji

Around 150 people waved national flags and raised a placard insisting "Park is innocent," as their former leader arrived for the beginning of her graft trial on Tuesday, the Yonhap news agency reported.

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?"

The 65-year-old 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.

Several charges

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.

Protesters supporting South Korean President Park Geun-hye scuffle with riot policemen
The scandal led to mass protests in support and against Park before her impeachment in DecemberImage: Reuters/Str

Others implicated

Dozens of people, including politicians, aides and billionaire Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong have been indicted in connection with the scandal, which brought down Park's presidency.

In March, the Constitutional Court upheld Park's earlier impeachment by parliament over the scandal. Earlier this month, she was replaced as president in national elections by Moon Jae-in.

The former president has denied breaking any laws and has accused her opponents of framing her.

Prosecutors question Park Geun-hye in graft probe

mm/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)