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    Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the South Korean political scandal and long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, appears for her first trial at the Seoul Central District Court on January 5, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea

    South Korean President's 'Shadow Adviser' Pleads Innocent as Trial Starts

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    Choi Soon-sil, "shadow adviser" of South Korean President Park Geun-hye denied the allegations that she tried to influence state affairs and commit fraud.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye's "shadow adviser" Choi Soon-sil has pleaded innocent of trying to influence state affairs and committing fraud as her trial kicked off in Seoul, local media reported Thursday.

    "There are many parts that are unfair to me," Choi said after denying the allegations, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

    Former presidential aides An Chong-bum and Jeong Ho-seong, who are accused of collaborating with Choi, were also at the hearing. The former denied charges of helping Choi's foundations extort money from corporations, while the latter's lawyer delayed the decision on whether or not to plead guilty.

    The Constitutional Court of South Korea also resumed its hearings on impeaching Park after holding a nine-minute hearing on Tuesday, with the president failing to make an appearance. Park's lawyers said she was unlikely to attend the trial.

    The South Korean parliament decided to impeach the president on December 9 after it transpired that Choi, a close friend of Park who does not hold any official posts in the government or the president's administration, edited the president's speeches and possibly used her ties to Park for her own financial benefit. Choi, as well as the two former presidential aides, had been arrested and accused of corruption and abuse of authority.

    The Constitutional Court has six months to decide upon the validity of the parliament's impeachment of Park. If the impeachment is recognized as valid, presidential elections should be called within two months.


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