Samsung Group chief denies all charges as ‘trial of the century’ begins

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Samsung Group chief, Jay Y. Lee arrives at the office of the independent counsel team in Seoul, South Korea, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo
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By Suyeong Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) – The leader of South Korea’s Samsung Group conglomerate, Jay Y. Lee, on Thursday denied all of a special prosecutor’s charges against him, his lawyer said at the opening of a hearing against him.

Lee’s trial, on bribery, embezzlement and other charges, is part of a corruption scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and rocked the country.

Lee, who is being detained at Seoul Detention Centre, was not in attendance.

A defendant’s presence is not required during a preparatory hearing, held to organise evidence and set dates for witness testimony.

“It is unclear what kind of order Lee Jae-yong is supposed to have given,” a lawyer defending Lee said during the hearing, using his Korean name.

Lee’s defence denied all charges against him on his behalf.

The Samsung Group has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Among the charges against Lee, 48, are pledging bribes to a company and organisations linked to a friend of President Park, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the scandal, to cement his control of the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire.

(Reporting by Suyeong Lee; Writing by Joyce Lee; Editing by Robert Birsel)


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