UPDATE : 2019.3.20 WED 10:28
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Court to rule Tuesday on Park's friend in influence-peddling scandal

A Seoul court is scheduled to deliver its verdict this week on a woman at the center of a corruption scandal that led to the removal of former President Park Geun-hye from office early last year.

The Seoul Central District Court will rule on Choi Soon-sil, Park's longtime friend and confidante, on Tuesday over 18 counts of corruption, including abuse of power, coercion and bribery.

She was indicted in November 2016 and has been under presentencing detention for forcing 50 business conglomerates to pay a combined 77.4 billion won (US$71.2 million) to two nonprofit foundations she allegedly controlled.

She is accused of meddling in various state affairs, even though she held no official position or authority in the Park government, whose five-year term ended a year short following the Constitutional Court's ruling on Park's ousting last March.

Special Counsel Park Young-soo and state prosecutors have demanded 25 years in prison for Choi, with a fine of 118.2 billion won and a forfeit of 7.7 billion won.

Choi's sentencing trial had originally been scheduled for late last month, but the court delayed the date by two weeks, citing the enormity of the case and the need for more time to deliberate.

The court ruling on Choi is expected to affect the sentencing of Park, slated for late March. The disgraced ex-leader has also been on trial over the scandal, but has refused to show up in court in protest at the extension of her detention, claiming she is being made a target of "political revenge."

Choi has pleaded not guilty. She has said she never pursued any personal gain and lashed out at the prosecution for wrongly accusing her.

The photo filed Dec. 14, 2017, shows Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend and confidante of ousted President Park Geun-hye, entering the Seoul Central District Court to attend her corruption trial. (Yonhap)

The court will also hand down a sentence for Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin, who is accused of bribing Choi with 7 billion won in addition to his retail group's donation to the foundations. Prosecutors have asked for a four-year jail term for Shin and that he forfeit 7 billion won.

An Chong-bum, Park's senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, will also face his court verdict for bribe-taking and involvement in Choi's influence peddling. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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