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Constitutional Court set for first hearing on Park impeachment case

All Headlines 11:37 January 03, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Constitutional Court is to hold its first hearing Tuesday on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal involving her and her longtime friend.

Park, who has been suspended from performing her duties till a decision is made by the court, was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9 on suspicions she was an accomplice in a string of wrongdoings committed by Choi Soon-sil. Choi, a daughter of Park's late mentor Choi Tae-min, has been accused of abusing her ties to the president to gain various business and personal favors despite having no position in the government.

Tuesday's hearing, set to begin at 2 p.m., will be presided over by all nine justices, including Court President Park Han-chul, and look into each argument for and against the impeachment.

The president, who has been asked to attend the session, is widely expected to be absent. She has denied all of the allegations against her, saying she only received simple advice from Choi and carried out her presidential duties faithfully.

This photo, taken on Jan. 2, 2017, shows the Constitutional Court (front) and the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in the background. (Yonhap)

The key issues under review are whether Park violated the people's sovereignty and the rule of law, abused her power, infringed on the freedom of the press, neglected her duty to protect the right to life, and took part in bribery and other crimes.

Should Park be absent, the court can set another date for the hearing and later proceed in her absence through a proxy.

Currently, two additional hearings have been scheduled for Thursday and next Tuesday, during which some of the key suspects in the case have been asked to appear before the court. They include Choi; An Chong-bum, former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination; and Jeong Ho-seong, former secretary for private presidential affairs.

The court has 180 days to decide whether to unseat or reinstate Park. In the meantime, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is serving as the country's acting president.

hague@yna.co.kr
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