Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of South Korea's impeached president, denies charges of fraud and abuse of power on day one of her trial in Seoul. Eve Johnson reports.
The mysterious woman at the centre of South Korea's tangled political scandal getting her day in court on Monday (December 19). Choi Soon-sil - a long time friend and confidante of the president - denying charges of fraud and abuse of power, and telling the court it was time to set the record straight. Prosecutors say she was the mastermind behind schemes to squeeze businesses for millions of dollars in collusion with President Park Geun-hye - a scandal which led to the president's impeachment earlier this month. But Choi's lawyer says the charges are a work of fiction. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) CHOI SOON-SIL'S LAWYER, LEE KYUNG-JAE, SAYING: "We stressed that there was no collusion between Choi, the president, and her former aid. And we look forward to having an intense examination over this point." Her next hearing is set for December 29th. Meanwhile Park is holed up in the presidential house, stripped of her powers while she waits for the Constitutional Court to decide her fate. If the court rules to uphold parliament's impeachment vote she would become the country's first elected leader to be thrown out of office.