LAWYERS for South Korean President Park Geun-Hye have argued that there is no evidence to support the allegations of corruption that led to the embattled president’s impeachment last month.
Park once again refused to appear at the opening of the impeachment trial following a previous no-show on Tuesday that resulted in the opening oral statements being postponed.
As the court is unable to force Park to appear, the proceedings commenced as planned on Thursday.
Confirming her absence, the nine-justice bench proceeded to hear the oral arguments by Park’s lawyers and the National Assembly that impeached her on Dec 9 over an alleged corruption and influence peddling scandal involving her long-time friend, Choi Soon-Il.
Park’s lawyer, Lee Jung-Hwan, used his opening statement to highlight to the court that the accusations stated in the impeachment bill “lack evidence and fail to make legal sense” because they were based on allegations and media reports, not criminal convictions.
“There is no solid evidence to back the impeachment” Lee stated, as quoted by Channel News Asia (via the AFP).
Lee also urged the court to overturn Parliament’s December vote.
The prosecution, representing the parliament, accused Park of “broadly and gravely” violating the constitution and betraying the trust of the Korean people.
“The court is requested to fire the president so that impaired constitutional order can be restored”, said Kwon Seong-Dong, a lawmaker for the prosecution.
“She ignored her duty as the head of state and chief administrator of the country.”
The friend at the centre of the corruption allegations, Choi Soon-Il, also appeared in court on Thursday, claiming that she was “facing much unfairness” and denied all criminal charges against her.
Choi is accused of colluding with Park to pressure big businesses to contribute to non-profit foundations backing the president’s initiatives.
“There was no collusion between my client, the president and An. There is no truth in saying the accused (Choi) was involved in collecting funds for foundations from conglomerates,” Lee Kyung-jae, Choi’s lead lawyer, told the court.
Park has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that she carried out her presidential duties faithfully and that any wrongdoings that may have occurred were done without her knowledge.
Additional reporting by Reuters