Prosecutors: More bribery charges for South Korean ex-leader

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2018 3:39 AM
Prosecutors: More bribery charges for South Korean ex-leader

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Prosecutors filed additional bribery charges against South Korea's jailed ex-president on Thursday, alleging 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 that could lead to a lengthy prison term. Her ouster 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 Thursday accuse Park of receiving a total of 3.5 billion won ($3.3 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 like money to her presidential aides, said the official who spoke anonymously because he wasn't involved in the investigation.

Two of the former the 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 hasn't 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 Park's 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.