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Park Geun-hye fails to attend trial

South Korea (The Korea Herald) -- Former President Park Geun-hye on Monday refused to attend a hearing in her trial, making good on an earlier pledge to boycott the process. The Korea Herald explains possible motives behind her boycott and what is likely to happen next.

One of five public lawyers assigned by the court to former President Park Geun-hye takes questions Monday at Seoul Central District Court in Seoul.

Park Geun-hye was South Korea’s conservative icon and first female president until her reign was toppled in March this year by massive public protests over a scandal involving her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil and the country’s largest conglomerate Samsung.
Just weeks after her fall from power, Park, 65, was arrested and indicted for a total of 18 charges, including bribery, coercion, abuse of power and the leakage of government secrets. She remains in solitary confinement at a correction facility just south of Seoul.
Park’s former rival in the presidential race, Moon Jae-in, now occupies the Blue House, strongly pushing for liberal reforms on the back of his popularity.
Earlier this month, Park’s home party, Liberty Korea Party, terminated Park’s party membership, formally severing ties with her.
According to Korean criminal law, hearings can go on without the presence of a defendant in circumstances whereby he or she has failed to perform a court-ordered action.
Lead Judge Kim Se-yoon on Monday hinted at a trial in absentia for Park, saying the court would decide Tuesday how to proceed with the trial process if Park continues to not show up. Park’s attorneys, appointed by the court after her initial defense team resigned, would still represent her in the courtroom.
“(Refusal to attend trial hearings) will do more harm than good to the defendant because she is denying herself the right to protect her own legal interests,” said Nam Kyoung-kook, a constitutional scholar at the University of Seoul Law School.
Park’s seven-lawyer defense team resigned en masse on Oct. 16, after the court rejected their request for Park to be tried without detention once the detention warrant expired. They called the judges and their decision “biased” and the trial “meaningless.”


(Latest Update
November 28,
2017)


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