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Ousted S.Korean president appears in court for 1st hearing

2017-05-23 10:31:18 (Beijing Time)         news.xinhuanet.com

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South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye (C) arrives for a trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, on May 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Lee Sang-ho)

SEOUL, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday appeared in a Seoul court for her first hearing over a set of corruption charges.

Park, handcuffed and in a dark blue suit, appeared in the Seoul Central District Court for her trial on a total of 18 criminal charges including bribery, abuse of power, extortion and the leakage of government secrets.

It was her first public appearance since she was taken into custody on March 31. The constitutional court upheld the bill to impeach Park on March 10.

The first hearing began at about 10:00 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) and was presided over by three judges, including the one who is in charge of the case of Choi Soon-sil, Park's longtime confidante who is also in custody and is at the center of the corruption scandal.

Park and Choi were identified by prosecutors as criminal accomplice. They were charged with taking bribes worth about 59.2 billion won (52 million U.S. dollars) from large conglomerates including Samsung, Lotte and SK.

Choi and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin also appeared at the court to stand trial together with Park.

If convicted for the bribery charge, Park would face at least 10 years in prison.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto leader of Samsung Group, has already stood trial as he was indicted in February.