Korean Air chairman's daughter denies 'nut rage' charges

SEOUL (REUTERS) - The daughter of the chairman of Korean Air Lines on Monday denied conspiring with airline executives to force flight attendants to lie about her first class outburst over the way she was served nuts.

Heather Cho, 40, a former executive of the airline and head of in-flight service before she resigned, appeared in court in Seoul on Monday after her arrest on Dec 30.

Cho had demanded the crew chief removed from the flight at John F. Kennedy airport in New York after another flight attendant served her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a dish.

The plane, already taxiing to the runway, had to return to its gate.

The incident, widely referred to as "nut rage", stirred public outrage and ridicule, leading Cho to resign from her posts at the airline and subsidiaries.

Defence lawyers denied Cho violated aviation security laws by changing the flight's route or conspired with airline executives to coerce crew members to lie about the incident to investigators.

Cho, wearing a light green prison uniform, did not speak during the hearing.

Her lawyers told the court that Cho felt sorry for her actions, but that they did not merit punishment by law.

They also denied that she used violence toward the chief steward. The steward and prosecutors had said he was forced to kneel down and Cho poked his palm several times with a folder. "As information that no one except investigators could know was disclosed to the press, the defendant, her husband and 19-month-old twin boys wound up in a condition where they cannot mentally recover," defence lawyer Yoo Seung Nam said.

Heather Cho is the oldest of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho's three children. Her siblings are also executives with the airline.

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