Wednesday 23 January 2019

South Korean ex-president Park facing more bribery charges

Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, left, faces further bribery charges (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, left, faces further bribery charges (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Prosecutors in South Korea have filed additional bribery charges against the country's ex-president, alleging that she received official funds from her spy chiefs for personal purposes.

Park Geun-hye was removed from office in March 2017 and is on trial on a broad range of corruption and other charges which could lead to a lengthy prison term.

Her ousting followed months of protests that drew millions of South Koreans into the streets calling for her removal.

Among the key charges are that Park colluded with longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to take tens of millions of dollars from companies in bribes and extortion.

The new charges prosecutors imposed on Thursday accuse Park of receiving a total of 3.5 billion won (£2.4 million) of official funds from three of her spy chiefs, said an official at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office.

She allegedly used the funds to pay maintenance fees for her private residence and her confidante's boutique and give incentives including cash to her presidential aides, said the official.

Two of the former National Intelligence Service directors have already been charged with taking money from the NIS's coffers to give to Park's close aides.

In October, Park called herself a victim of "political revenge" and her lawyers resigned collectively in an apparent protest after a Seoul court decided to extend her detention.

The Seoul Central District Court later appointed new lawyers for her, but Park has not attended court trials since then, citing sickness.

Park's new charges could require more hearings to review them, but the Seoul court is expected to issue a verdict on her in coming months, according to the prosecution official. The previous charges could already potentially send her to jail for life.

Park, the daughter of a deeply divisive dictator, became South Korea's first female president in early 2013. A small number of her supporters - many in their 50s, 60s and 70s - have been rallying near the court and elsewhere in South Korea in recent months, calling for her release.


Press Association

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