Impeached Korean President Park Geun-hye is looking to avoid attending the trial of Samsung Group Vice Chairman and heir apparent Jay Y. Lee, with her legal representatives sending a non-attendance letter to the Seoul Central District Court earlier this week. The former President received numerous requests to appear before the court and testify in the case that saw her impeached, with her year-long associate Choi Soon-sil also ending in jail and Lee currently being tried on numerous counts, including bribery, hiding proceeds of a criminal act, and embezzlement of corporate funds.
The 35th hearing in the high-profile case that shook the entire South Asian country wrapped up earlier today, with Park failing to appear at its second, afternoon session for unknown reasons. The contents of the non-attendance letter received by the competent court are still unknown, though a number of prosecutors working on the case previously complained about the former President's insistence to avoid appearing in court at all costs. Park isn't the only potential witness refusing to testify, with Choi doing the same last week, shortly after several other persons of interest also stated they have no intention of taking the witness stand in the case. That state of affairs is slowing the court proceedings in a significant manner, with competent judges being unable to move the trial forward. Park was previously alleged to have asked Lee to finance Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra by contributing to several organizations using Samsung's funds. In exchange, Park and Choi supposedly pressured the largest national pension fund in the country to approve the 2015 merger of Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T, with the fund being able to do so due to having the largest stake in the latter of all shareholders. Allegations of corruption emerged after investigators concluded that the pension fund lost millions on the transaction and had no legitimate reason to greenlight it, with the eventual fallout leading to Park's impeachment and Lee's incarceration.
Samsung Group's heir apparent was said to be looking to complete the controversial consolidation by any means, as the deal resulted in a structural shift that gave more power over the chaebol to the part of the conglomerate controlled by the founding Lee family. An update on the situation is expected to follow later this summer.