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Lawyers of Jailed South Korean President Resign


Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, arrives for her trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 16, 2017.

The seven defense lawyers of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye resigned en masse Monday to protest what they say is a biased corruption trial.

Speaking for the first time since the start of her trial, Park, who was removed from office and arrested in March, called the proceedings against her an act of "political revenge."

Park was impeached in December by parliament and in March fired by the country's top court, following revelations of her involvement in a massive corruption scandal centered on a friend of 40 years and some of the country's top businessmen, including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong.

FILE - People watch a TV screen showing an image of solitary cell of Seoul Detention Center used by former South Korean President Park Geun-hye during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 31, 2017.
FILE - People watch a TV screen showing an image of solitary cell of Seoul Detention Center used by former South Korean President Park Geun-hye during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 31, 2017.

She faces charges of bribery, extortion, abuse of power and other high-profile corruption charges that could potentially send her to jail for life.

The lawyers' resignations were submitted because they took issue with the extension of her detention. Last week it was extended until April 2018.

The court said Park could destroy evidence if she were released.

One of the lawyers told South Korean news agency Yonhap, "Witnessing the grand principles of presumption of innocence and trial without detention helplessly collapsing, the lawyers feel no need to get involved in future court proceedings." He said, "As we've reached a conclusion that any defense argument for the defendant is meaningless, all of us decided to resign."

Park told the court "I've come to the conclusion that it's meaningless to believe that the court will handle the case only in accordance with the constitution and conscience."

The former president has maintained that she is innocent.

Park is the first elected leader to be removed from office in South Korea since democratic rule was established in 1987.

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