South Korean business leader Choi Soon-sil has protested her innocence and insists she has been forced to confess in a high-profile corruption investigation.
Choi is at the heart of a scandal embroiling key figures in South Korea from the president to the de facto head of Samsung.
She is on trial on charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud.
Choi has repeatedly denied accusations of colluding with her friend, South Korean President Park Guen-hye, to pressure big businesses, including Samsung, to contribute to non-profit organisations which back the president’s initiatives.
Both Park and Samsung deny any wrongdoing.
Park remains in office, but has been stripped of her powers while the investigation is underway.
The Constitutional Court’s chief judge is pushing for the president’s impeachment trial to be concluded by mid-March (13), when retirements will reduce the currently nine-judge panel to seven.
Park Han-chul claims the court’s impartiality in the corruption trial may be compromised if the panel is smaller.