Bribery Charges Silence Choi Soon Sil In Trial

Brandon Ko, Feb. 10, 2017, 9:56 a.m.

Independent counsel Park Young-soo on Thursday questioned President Park Geun-hye's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil on allegations that she took bribes from Samsung.

This is the first time that Choi, who is in jail pending a separate criminal trial, has been questioned over the bribery charge, which the independent counsel is determined to make stick.

Choi persistently refused to appear for questioning until the independent counsel took the unusual step of obtaining an arrest warrant for a person who is already in jail.

On Thursday, Choi instead refused to answer questions by insisting on her right to remain silent. This has led to speculation that she merely wanted to gauge how much progress investigators have made building the case against her.

Samsung and other conglomerates say they merely buckled under pressure when Cheong Wa Dae solicited donations for two dodgy non-profits controlled by Choi, but the counsel believes they were promised favors in return.

The independent counsel soon hopes to question Park, who has also been named as an accomplice in Choi's criminal trial.

The counsel's team said they are in talks with Park's lawyers to set a date for the interview after Park backed out of an appointment on Thursday.

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