Ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye stands trial over corruption scandal

Millions took to the streets to demand she step down. A top court ousted her from office. Now, Park Geun-hye, South Korea's former president, is in the dock -- the final chapter in a corruption scandal that led to her downfall.

Park's trial began Tuesday at the Seoul Central District Court and is likely to last for several months. Park is expected to defend charges of corruption, coercion and leaking confidential information to a non-public servant.

South Koreans have been eagerly anticipating the trial of the country's first female president, who spent both her youth and later years in the Blue House -- the country's equivalent to the White House.

Park entered the court building wearing handcuffs and a dark blue suit. Once in the courtroom, she bowed slightly toward lawyers and when asked by the judge what her occupation was, she replied: "I don't have any occupation."

Some 500 people had lined up on Friday at Seoul court to apply for one of 68 courtroom seats to get a ringside view. One woman, who had lined up for an hour and didn't want to give her name, told CNN that she wanted to see the trial because she wanted "to view justice, to see it play out with her own eyes."

Those who didn't get a seat will be subject to blanket coverage from the South Korean media, although the trial itself won't be televised.

"I am very curious about whether she is going to receive a fair public trial just like any civilian without special treatment," said 29-year-old Kim Han-min.

Park was arrested in March shortly after she was ousted as president by the country's Constitutional Court, which upheld a decision by the country's parliament to impeach her. Her removal from office followed months of public outcry over a wave of corruption allegations.

"The suspect abused the mighty power and position as President to take bribes from companies and infringed upon the freedom of corporate management and leaked important confidential official information," the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office said in a statement on her arrest.

Park was accused of being unduly influenced by her longtime friend and adviser, Choi Soon-sil, who is also on trial for abuse of power and fraud. The court that upheld her impeachment her agreed with accusations that Park had abused her authority in helping Choi raise donations from companies for foundations she had set up. Choi was also in court Tuesday but Park appeared to avoid looking at her.

"I just want the truth to be revealed. Our people are divided... Some people still respect her while some hate her," said a 67-year-old woman from Incheon, who didn't want to give her name.

Also indicted in the trial is Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin, a billionaire businessmen who was allegedly involved in bribery.

Park isn't the first South Korean president to face trial.

In 1995, former presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo were charged for military mutiny, treason and graft.

Chun was initially sentenced to death penalty while Roh was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Their sentences were reduced later to life imprisonment and 17 years respectively, and two years later, they were released. Then president Kim Young Sam granted them a pardon, a decision which resulted in violent protests.

Park's trial takes place just two weeks after South Korea elected a new president, liberal reformer Moon Jae-in, who campaigned on clean government.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.