25 C
Friday, February 21, 2020
Home News World Retrial of confidante of SKorea’s ex-leader starts

Retrial of confidante of SKorea’s ex-leader starts


SEOUL: A new bribery trial opened Wednesday for the former confidante of ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye in connection with the sprawling scandal that brought down her friend, media reported.

Choi Soon-sil — who became close to Park through her father, a shadowy religious figure — received a 20-year prison term last year for using her presidential connections to force companies including Samsung to donate to foundations she controlled, among other charges.

But the Supreme Court in August sent both their cases, along with several others, back to the Seoul High Court for retrials, saying there had been errors in the judgements.

In her first court appearance in court in 14 months, Choi, 63, denied the accusations, claiming she did not play an influential role in the Park government but only “helped” her longtime friend while “living an ordinary life.”

“I can vow to the heavens I didn’t know any of the companies,” she was quoted as saying by the South’s Yonhap news agency, adding: “I was not in any way a secret power behind the throne.”

Her defense team requested former president Park be summoned as a witness in the next hearing.

No date has yet been set for the retrial of Park, who is serving a 25-year jail term after being convicted last year on bribery and abuse of power charges.

Proceedings began last week for Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of tech giant Samsung Electronics, on charges of bribery, embezzlement and other offenses.

The cases have highlighted shady links between big business and politics in South Korea, with Park and Choi accused of taking bribes from corporate bigwigs in exchange for preferential treatment.

But Choi’s retrial is unlikely to result in a significant change to her initial verdict or sentence, independent attorney Shin Jang-sik told Agence France-Presse.

“The Supreme Court ordered a retrial because it saw that those who bribed Choi did so rather actively,” Shin said, “not by Choi’s coercion.”

“But that judgement won’t much alter the equation in the court ruling on her.”

One of the bribery charges Choi faces relates to three horses worth 3.4 billion won (US$ 2.9 million) that Samsung Group donated for her daughter’s equestrian training.


Immigration exec confirms ‘pastillas’ operation, competition among syndicates at NAIA

AN immigration officer on Thursday claimed that some syndicates at the airport and Bureau of Immigration (BI) competed for “grease money” being offered by...

Court junks 9 falsification cases vs Sajid Ampatuan

THE Sandiganbayan's Sixth Division threw out nine falsification cases filed against Mayor Sajid Ampatuan of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in Maguindanao. The cases were among...

Duterte relieves Immigration officials, employees  in ‘pastillas’ bribery scheme

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte ordered the relief of all officials and employees of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the alleged "pastillas" bribery scheme involving...

House OKs on second reading bill increasing employees’ annual leave 

THE House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill increasing mandatory paid annual leave of employees from five to 10 days annually. House Bill 1338 seeks...

Dela Rosa ‘regrets’ US visa cancellation but bears ‘no ill will’

SEN. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa regretted the cancellation of his United States (US) visa and consequently, the loss of a long relationship but maintained that...

Today’s Front Page February 21, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 21, 2020