November 10, 2016 11:11
Prosecutors will put Choi Soon-sil on trial in mid-November on charges of extorting W77.4 billion for her dubious Mir and K-Sports foundations, they said Wednesday (US$1=W1,150).
Choi, a longtime friend of President Park Geun-hye's without any official post or clearance, is at the center of an influence peddling scandal that is threatening to bring down the president.
She returned to Korea from Germany late last month and has been questioned since.
Choi was usually questioned from 10 a.m. till midnight, but on Tuesday she did not turn up until 2 p.m. citing sickness. She was spotted entering the prosecutor's office in a wheelchair.
Choi continues to deny all charges despite a growing mountain of evidence. Even though Park and her former secretary Jeong Ho-seong have admitted handing over classified documents to her, Choi is insisting she has no knowledge of receiving them, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors intend to indict Choi first and focus on charges of corruption and influence peddling.
They are weighing the option of summoning her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, who is in Germany.
Choi separately prevailed on Samsung to pay her 2.8 million euros for a horse and equestrian facilities for her daughter and leaned on the prestigious Ewha Woman's University to change admission criteria for her.
"Chung Yoo-ra is said to have personally visited the university with her mother to meet with a professor there," a prosecutor said.
Another prosecution official said, "We have to investigate the president, so we can't let anyone off. Chung is directly involved in the scandal so we need to question her."
Speaking through her lawyer earlier, Choi pleaded with the public to leave her daughter out of the scandal.
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