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South Korea to continue ex-president’s trial in absentia

IANS | Seoul |

A South Korean court on Tuesday announced that it would continue proceedings against former President Park Geun-hye despite her refusal to appear since October.

Park, in preventive detention since March, has tried to boycott proceedings since the Seoul Central District Court’s decision on October 13 to extend her detention for another six months fearing she might destroy evidence, reports Efe news.

The former leader 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.

She has also refused to meet even once with the state-sponsored defence lawyers assigned to her.

The court ruled on 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.

Both have been accused of extorting several millions of dollars from large South Korean firms, including Samsung, in return for official favours.

Park could face a 10-year prison sentence if found guilty.