Former President Park Geun-hye will attend the opening hearing of her corruption trial along with her accomplice and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil this week, court sources said Sunday.
The Seoul Central District Court scheduled the hearing for Tuesday. Park was accused of receiving or demanding 59.2 billion won (US$52.7 million) in bribes from conglomerates, including Samsung Group.
The court earlier had two preparatory hearings for the trial but Park did not have to attend. But Park will show up for the first hearing because it is mandatory for the accused to attend formal hearings. This would be her first public appearance since she was arrested on bribery and other charges on March 31. She was removed from office on March 10.
Park, during the upcoming hearing, is expected to hold fast to her earlier position of denying all charges against her. There is also the possibility that she could directly defend herself.
Her defense lawyers have claimed that the former president was not aware of the alleged illegalities committed by Choi and had not offered to help Samsung make a management transition between father and son. They have also made clear that Park has never directly demanded conglomerates donate a huge sum of money to two nonprofit foundations -- Mir and K-Sports -- that were reportedly controlled by Choi.
Choi, who has denied all charges against her, is forecast to maintain that position.
Prosecutors, in contrast, believe that the two have practically shared economic profits and Choi received financial support in exchange for helping Samsung's management rights transfer.
The second formal hearing for Park's trial is scheduled for two days later. Park will be the only one to attend the hearing among those accused in the case as the court already finished hearing from Choi about her abuse of power and coercion charges. The court will review written evidence on Choi's charges. (Yonhap)