Woman behind "Choi Soon-sil Gate" to Appear in Court Today

Woman behind "Choi Soon-sil Gate" to Appear in Court Today

SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- The close friend of President Park Geun-hye, who is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal that has led up to the president's impeachment, will appear at the first court hearing Monday, her lawyer said.

   Choi Soon-sil will attend the first preparatory hearing to be held at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul, which will mark the first time she has appeared before public since she was called in by prosecutors in late October. She was indicted last month over a string of corruption allegations involving the president and aides.

   "Choi Soon-sil will attend the preparatory hearing today," Choi's attorney Lee Kyung-jae told reporters in a text message. "She has expressed her willingness to sincerely go through the trial."


   It is not mandatory for defendants to attend the preparatory procedures, which are meant for the prosecution and defense to discuss how the upcoming court hearings should proceed.

   It is still unclear whether President Park's two former aides who were indicted with Choi will attend the hearing.

   Charges leveled against the three include abuse of authority, bullying local conglomerates to get them to fork out large sums of money to create two nonprofit foundations and leaking government documents.

   The prosecution's indictment had a ripple effect, leading up to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. She has also become the first sitting South Korean president to be named as a criminal suspect by state prosecutors.'

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