Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(2nd LD) Prosecutors demand 25-year jail term for ex-leader Park's friend

All Headlines 16:59 December 14, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS Choi's reaction and remarks from her lawyer in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors asked a court Thursday to hand down a 25-year prison term to a longtime friend and confidante of former President Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in a massive corruption scandal that stripped her of power early this year.

Special Counsel Park Young-soo and state prosecutors also demanded the court order Choi Soon-sil, 61, to pay a fine of 118.5 billion won (US$109 million) and forfeit 7.7 billion won.

Choi was arrested and indicted in November last year on 18 charges, including abuse of power, coercion and bribery.

The charges center on the alleged collusion with the former president to extort money from Samsung and other conglomerates and interfere in state affairs. She stands accused of pressuring 50 conglomerates to donate 77.4 billion won to two foundations allegedly controlled by her.

The prosecution also demanded six years in prison and a fine of 100 million won for An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary of policy coordination at the time, for collaborating with Choi to force the corporate donations and for taking kickbacks from a local plastic surgeon accused of illegal treatment of Park.

For Shin Dong-bin, the chairman of retail conglomerate Lotte Group, the prosecution requested a four-year jail term for bribing Choi with 7 billion won, in addition to its donation to her organizations. They demanded he forfeit 7 billion won.

The prosecution said that Choi deserves a heavy punishment because she undermined Constitutional values by seeking her personal gains through taking advantage of her ties with the president.

"The true nature of this case is the clandestine and unethical backscratching between political and money powers, and the greed and misdeeds of someone behind the curtain fully capitalizing on it," it said in its closing statement.

The prosecution slammed her for being the "culprit who threw the nation into confusion and turmoil, which eventually brought about the impeachment of a president."

Lee Kyung-jae, Choi's defense lawyer, said the 25-year imprisonment "was as good as dying in prison," accusing the prosecution of incriminating Choi in a politically motivated case.

"The majority faction in the parliament that passed the impeachment motion has branded this case as an influence-peddling scandal and the prosecutors and special counsel have framed former president Park and my client as corrupt offenders," he said. "It's a miracle that my client has put up with the trial while keeping her sanity."

While Lee was making his closing argument, Choi requested the judge allow a recess. As she moved to the defendant's waiting room, she screamed in apparent rage, before being taken outside in a wheelchair by guards.

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


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!