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April 24, 2017

S.Korea 'Rasputin' daughter fights extradition in Danish court

S.Korea 'Rasputin' daughter fights extradition in Danish court

Aalborg (Denmark) (AFP) - The daughter of Choi Soon-Sil, the woman at the centre of a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea's president, appeared in a Danish district court Wednesday to fight her extradition to Seoul.

Chung Yoo-Ra, the 20-year-old daughter of the woman dubbed South Korea's "Rasputin", is one of the figures in the influence-peddling scandal that led to huge street protests demanding the removal of President Park Geun-Hye.

The Aalborg district court will examine Chung's case, and a decision was expected later in the day.

Chung was detained in Denmark on January 1 for overstaying her visa, after South Korean authorities issued a warrant for her arrest.

Seoul then sought her extradition, which the Danish public prosecution authority approved on March 17.

Chung has denied any wrongdoing.

An equestrian who has reportedly bought horses and trained in Denmark in the past, she has told police that she was in Denmark because of her involvement in the sport.

Chung's mother, a confidante of Park's, is accused of using her influence to secure her daughter's admission to an elite Seoul university, Ewha Womans University, with a state probe revealing that the school had admitted Chung at the expense of better-qualified candidates.

The revelation touched a raw nerve in education-obsessed South Korea.

Several professors at the university, including a former school president, have been investigated for allegedly giving Chung preferential treatment.

A South Korean special prosecutor is also probing allegations that Chung's mother used millions of dollars of bribes from Samsung, South Korea's largest conglomerate, to finance her daughter's equestrian career and luxurious lifestyle in Europe.

Chung's lawyer, Michael Juul Eriksen, told Danish news agency Ritzau he would argue to the Aalborg court that his client had not committed any crime and that the extradition was based on political motives.

"We will argue that the conditions have not been met for extradition," he said.

"We think this is a political case, and therefore there can be no extradition," he said.

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye was on Monday charged with bribery involving millions of dollars over the massive corruption and influence-peddling scandal that brought her down and which has also implicated top businessmen.

The former leader, already detained at a centre near Seoul, also faces charges of abusing her powers and leaking state secrets.

Park is accused of colluding with her confidante, Chung's mother Choi Soon-sil, who is already on trial for coercing local conglomerates into donating a total of 77.4 billion won ($68 million) to two non-profit foundations.

Choi allegedly used some of the donations for personal gain.

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