Ousted S.Korean President's trial to begin in May

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, April 21 (IANS) The preparatory session of the trial against South Korea's ousted President Park Geun-hye, who is charged with corruption, will take place in May, only a week before the vote to elect her successor.

Sources close to the Seoul Central District court, which will hear the case, told Yonhap News Agency on Friday that a preparatory hearing is scheduled on May 2, although Park, 65, is not required to attend.

Park's lawyers must summarise their position before the court on that day regarding the charges filed against her, including abuse of power, bribery, coercion and disclosure of state secrets.

On April 17, the prosecution officially filed the charges against Park, who has been in custody since March 31.

In case of being found guilty, Park will face a minimum of 10 years in prison or even life imprisonment, Efe news reported.

In the indictment, the prosecution found it proven that Park had created a network with her friend Choi Soon-sil, dubbed the "South Korean Rasputin" for her proximity to the former President, and used it for seeking and obtaining bribes from at least three companies, including Samsung, Lotte and SK, worth about 59.2 billion won (about $52 million).

The investigation on Park started after she lost her presidential immunity following her impeachment on March 10 by the Constitutional Court.

It is the first time that South Korea has impeached a democratically elected president as well as the first time that the Asian country must hold early elections for a new president.