January 08, 2018 11:55
Ex-president Park Geun-hye has re-hired her lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha, who resigned after the Seoul Central District Court extended her detention.
Yoo is the only attorney who has represented Park since the investigation into the massive corruption scandal that brought her down first started and fought her impeachment on her behalf.
He visited Park in remand jail last Thursday and afterward submitted a letter of appointment to the court.
The same day, Park was slapped with additional charges of bribery and pilfering from state coffers after it turned out that she was given W3.65 billion in regular cash payments from the National Intelligence Service.
Yoo and the rest of Park's legal team resigned en masse in October last year after the court extended her detention period. Since then she has boycotted the trial and refused to meet with her court-appointed lawyers.
She is currently being tried in absentia.
She has apparently re-hired Yoo because the fresh charges require a change of tack. Until now, she has argued that she sought no personal gain in extorting billions from big conglomerates since most of the money went to her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
But prosecutors say the fresh charges show that Park used the money from the NIS to pay off her small army of quacks and maintain her private house in southern Seoul. That means she could face forfeit of her assets. Prosecutors said last April that they would not ask for Park's assets be confiscated, since she did not seem to have spent the money on herself.
The NIS funds case is being handled by a different judge from the ongoing corruption and influence-peddling trial where she is in the dock alongside Choi and others.
Meanwhile, prosecutors plan to drastically whittle down the number of witnesses in the ongoing trial to speed it up. A prosecution source said, "We have about 100 witnesses left but plan to reduce that to 30 or 40 this week by excluding those who have already testified" on other matters.
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