April 28, 2017 12:16
Ex-President Park Geun-hye is having trouble finding fresh lawyers to defend her in her trial for corruption and abuse of power that starts next Tuesday.
Park has fired most of the legal team that failed to prevent her impeachment being unanimously endorsed by the Constitutional Court but now finds it difficult to replace them.
One source close to Park said, "We’re in talks to get a former high court judge working for a large law firm to join the defense team but have been unable to reach an agreement."
High fees are one obstacle. Park already had to sell her Gangnam house and move somewhere more modest because all the money she allegedly extorted from conglomerates went into the slush funds of her fatal friend Choi Soon-sil.
Another problem is that few lawyers relish the pressure of defending a high-profile client who is so famously difficult and widely reviled.
Legal sources say Park not only faces 18 criminal charges but is pleading not guilty to every one of them, which makes defending her a massive headache.
If she appeals, the trial could drag on even longer, and not many lawyers want to be tied to a single case when it is uncertain whether the client can pay.
Sources close to Park are already saying they expect her to be cleared of the corruption charges, while the charges of abuse of power and divulging state secrets can be fought all the way up to the Supreme Court. This means any lawyer who takes on the case has a long, drawn-out and probably hopeless struggle laid out.
Add to that the constant glare of media attention and having to argue technicalities against a fairly solid prosecution case, and the price goes up.
One attorney said, "A top-notch lawyer would probably charge at least W1 billion" (US$1=W1,134).
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com