Former President Park Geun Hye Receives Court Appointed Lawyers

David Lee, Oct. 26, 2017, 8:44 a.m.

In a fresh twist to the epic trial of Park Geun-hye, the ex-president is now being defended by five court-appointed lawyers after her legal team resigned en masse last week. The resignation came after the court decided to extend Park's detention beyond the original six-month limit for fear that she could try to tamper with evidence. The new team, whose names were not given, will have to wade through 120,000 pages of documents, and their appointment has played havoc with the trial schedule.

The court has now decided to sentence Park's confidante and alleged puppet master Choi Soon-sil first alongside Park's former aide Jeong Ho-seong, who is accused of acting as their eager go-between. Another former Park flunkey, An Chong-bum, will also be sentenced soon on charges of pressuring big businesses to make huge donations to the dubious Mir and K-Sports foundations Choi controlled.

Park's own trial is not expected to resume until mid-November. Park has had no visitors since speaking with her former lawyer, Yoo Yeong-ha, last Thursday, according to prison officials. She spends her time in remand prison reading books and exercises outside for an hour a day.

Jeong, who is charged with handing over state secrets to Choi, will be sentenced on Nov. 15. Prosecutors on Wednesday requested a two-and-a-half-year sentence. In his final testimony, Jeong told the court Park is a "tragic" figure in Korea's modern history and claimed that other world leaders also turn to close friends for advice on how to govern. He added he feels "tremendous emotional pain" over the scandal.

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