Korea's first-ever impeached president Park Geun-hye attended her first trial hearing in Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday.
She arrived at the court thirty minutes before her trial, which was scheduled for 10 in the morning, with her hands cuffed and inmate number 503 attached to her clothing.
This is her first public appearance in the 53 days since her detention, as it was not mandatory for her to attend the two preliminary hearings.
The ousted president faces 18 charges, including receiving or demanding around 53 million U.S. dollars in bribes from conglomerates, including Samsung and Lotte.
When being seated in the courtroom, Park looked straight ahead, not even taking the slightest glance at her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil when Choi entered the room.
The two were in court together for the first time, along with Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin.
Choi is charged with receiving bribes, while the Lotte chief Shin is accused of handing out bribes.
This awkward encounter between the defendants occurred as the pair had overlapping charges, leading to the court deciding to merge Park and Choi's case during Tuesday's trial.
Both Park and Choi denied their charges, but Choi went further, appealing that the prosecutors are framing former President Park as a corrupt leader.
When asked whether they wanted a trial by jury, all three declined.
As the court can only hold Park in detention for six more months, the judges will try to speed up the trial, with witness investigations to be held every Monday and Tuesday, and at least one of either Wednesday or Thursday to be used for investigating Park and Choi's power abuse surrounding the Mir and K-Sports Foundations, allegedly controlled by Choi to funnel money, starting next week.
"Former president Park will appear in court again on Thursday to be questioned on the evidence submitted by the prosecution, and then she'll be at another hearing with Choi next Monday.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News."