Choi Soon-sil Says Smoking Gun Tablet PC 'Not Mine', Prosecution Says it is

Choi Soon-sil Says Smoking Gun Tablet PC 'Not Mine', Prosecution Says it is

SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) -- The prosecution has secured proof that a tablet PC, key evidence in a political scandal rocking the country, had been carried around by a friend of President Park Geun-hye who is at the center of the massive corruption scheme, sources said Thursday, as her lawyer denied ownership of the gadget.

After conducting a digital forensic analysis and checking Choi Soon-sil's immigration records, the prosecution confirmed that much of the location information kept on the tablet PC coincides with where she has been, according to official sources.

The mega scandal roiling the country and Park's presidency erupted in October after a local broadcaster obtained the tablet PC which contained files of presidential addresses and Choi's private photos such as those taken during family gatherings. The media outlet has been vague on how the tablet was obtained.

Choi has been flatly denying her ownership of the PC, saying she does not even know how to use such a gadget. Two witnesses that appeared at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday and were associates of Choi said they did not think she knew how to use a tablet, although state prosecutors countered that they have secured testimonies from people who said they saw her use it in the past.

"The tablet PC does not belong to Choi," her attorney Lee Jae-kyung told reporters Thursday. "The prosecution has concluded that it's Choi's and has been pressuring her in the course of the investigation, but she has consistently denied to such allegations." The attorney said that he has been asking the prosecution to have the tablet be checked by an independent expert to determine ownership.

The first court hearing on the case, which President Park was named an accomplice, is slated for Dec. 19.

Still, it is unlikely that Choi and other defendants will show up in the courtroom, as it is not mandatory for them to attend the preparatory procedures, which are meant for the prosecution and defense to discuss how the upcoming court hearings should proceed.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors indicted Choi's niece Chang Si-ho on a string of charges including abuse of power, coercion, fraud and embezzlement over her alleged involvement in the massive corruption scheme.

Chang is suspected of collaborating with her aunt and former vice sports minister to push the country's largest business group Samsung to donate over 1.6 billion won (US$1.38 million) to a sports foundation Chang controlled.

On Friday, South Korea's National Assembly will hold a vote on the impeachment of the embattled president.

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