The head of South Korea's Samsung Group, Jay Y. Lee, denies all charges against him, his lawyer said on Thursday, at the start of what the special prosecutor said could be the "trial of the century" amid a political scandal that has rocked the country.
Lee has been charged with bribery, embezzlement and other offences in a corruption scandal that has already led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
Lee, who is being detained at Seoul Detention Centre, did not attend court. A defendant does not have to turn up during a preparatory hearing, held to organise evidence and set dates for witness testimony.
Lee's defence denied all charges against him on his behalf, saying that the special prosecution's indictment cites conversations, evidence or witnesses the prosecution did not actually hear, investigate or interview according to the rules - or states opinions that are not facts.
"It is unclear what kind of order Lee Jae-yong is supposed to have given," Song Wu-cheol, defending Lee, told the court, using his Korean name.
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.
Lawyers for defendants being tried with Lee - former Samsung Group Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung, former Samsung Group President Chang Choong-ki and former Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin - also denied all charges.
(Feature image source: AFP)