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Park’s verdict will be televised live on Friday

Apr 04,2018
The verdict for former President Park Geun-hye’s corruption and power abuse trial will be televised on Friday, the first time that an initial verdict in a criminal trial will be broadcast live.

But whether Park will be in the courtroom is not yet known.

“We decided to allow live broadcasting of the verdict, considering the needs of the public [to know],” said the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday. “The courtroom cameras will be used to stream the sentencing.”

Korean courts can decide whether to broadcast trials live since an amendment was passed last July to a regulation on court procedures.

The hearing and broadcast will begin at 2:10 p.m. Friday.

Park, impeached in December 2016 and formally removed from office in March 2017, was indicted last April on 18 charges of corruption and power abuse. Although Park did not receive money directly, prosecutors concluded that she received bribes from conglomerates in collusion with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

She was accused of forcing conglomerates to contribute 77.4 billion won ($73.3 million) to two non-profit foundations Choi controlled. She was also indicted for receiving or demanding 43.3 billion won in bribes from Samsung Group.

Park was also accused of abusing her power by blacklisting artists and cultural figures critical of her administration and exercising undue influence in appointments of civil servants. She was also indicted for ordering an aide to leak government secrets to Choi.

Prosecutors in February recommended a punishment of 118.5 billion won in fines in addition to a 30-year prison term.

In February, her friend Choi was sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined 18 billion won in her initial trial for power abuse and bribery.

It is unclear if Park will be in the court Friday. On Monday, she submitted a statement to the court that she did not want the sentencing televised. She has been boycotting hearings in her trial since October.

Park, eldest daughter of the late strongman Park Chung Hee, was elected Korea’s first woman president in December 2012.

Although the victory allowed her to go back to the Blue House where she spent her teenage years ? and where she served as acting first lady after her mother’s assassination in 1974 ? she was removed before completing her five-year term.

Park is the first president in Korean history to be dismissed from the post. Her impeachment verdict by the Constitutional Court was also televised live in March 2017.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]