SOUTH KOREA’S Constitutional Court will start the official review of President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment next week amid the corruption and influence-peddling scandal that has rocked her premiership.
According to Yonhap news, the top court said its preparation procedure will be complete this week once it receives the outcome of the prosecution’s investigations into the case.
The National Assembly voted on Dec 9, by a wider-than-expected 234-56 margin, for Park to be impeached and the court has some six months to come up with a final ruling. South Korea has to hold a presidential election within 60 days once the impeachment has been confirmed.
Park’s lawyers, however, claim a parliamentary vote to impeach the embattled president had no legal basis and should be overturned by the Constitutional Court.
“We see no grounds for impeachment and it should be struck down,” Lee Joong-hwan, a former prosecutor who is part of the team representing Park, told reporters on Dec 16.
Meanwhile, Yon Hap also reported that lawmakers had failed to hold a hearing on Monday at a detention centre with Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil, and two former presidential aides, who had refused to attend a hearing at the National Assembly earlier this month.
The trio refused to appear before the members of a special parliamentary committee as they believe their testimonies could affect an on-going investigation by independent prosecutors.
The committee has filed complaints against them on charges of contempt of the National Assembly.
The panel has held five sessions of inquiry where they have summoned individuals including presidential staff members, business tycoons and other figures involved in the scandal.
Choi, the daughter of a shaman-like cult leader, is accused of exerting influence on state affairs without any government position and using her ties with the president to extort money from businesses. She denies the charges.
Choi and Park’s friendship dates back to the ‘1970s when Park served as the acting first lady after her mother was killed by an assassin’s bullet intended for her father, who was then-president Park Chung-hee.
Park’s father was murdered by his disgruntled spy chief five years later in 1979.