SEOUL – The Seoul Central District Court, where former South Korean president Park Geun-hye is under trial, announced on Tuesday that it would continue the proceedings despite the former leader’s refusal to appear before the court since October.
Park, in preventive detention since March, has tried to boycott proceedings since the court’s decision on Oct. 13 to extend her detention for another six months fearing she might destroy evidence.
Her legal team quit over the decision, and she has refused to appear at the trial alleging she suffers from acute pain in her feet and back that she attributes to the inhumane conditions in the prison in Uiwang, south of Seoul, where she has been kept.
The former president has also refused to meet even once with the state-sponsored defense lawyers assigned to her.
The court ruled Tuesday that the ailments mentioned by Park do not constitute sufficient reason for her absence from the trial and considered it necessary to go ahead with the procedure given the long list of evidence to be examined and pending testimony, including the limited period of preventive detention weighing on the defendant.
Park, 65, was impeached and temporarily jailed in March for her purported role in a scandal involving her close friend Choi Soon-sil, the Korean “Rasputin.”
Both have been accused of extorting several millions of dollars from large South Korean firms, including Samsung, in return for official favors.
Park could face a 10-year prison sentence if found guilty.