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(2nd LD) Artists blacklist allegations cited as reason for Park's impeachment

All News 17:57 February 02, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with reaction of Park's lawyers, request to summon Samsung heir in last 7 paras)

SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- Lawmakers added allegations of an artists blacklist to the charge sheet for the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on Thursday as they strive to fend off what they see as a stalling tactic by her legal representatives.

The parliamentary panel, serving as the prosecution in the Constitutional Court trial, submitted a revised impeachment document, which also simplified the overall frame of her charges and reinforced legal arguments for issues related to her bungled response to a 2014 ferry disaster.

Last year, the panel presented the Dec. 9 parliamentary resolution of impeachment to the court. It centered on allegations that Park let her friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs, colluded with her to extort money from conglomerates, and neglected her duty when the passenger ship sank killing more than 300.

They revised the grounds to incorporate recent allegations that she dismissed government officials who resisted the blacklist of liberal artists, authors and filmmakers.

The new document accused the president of "making select senior officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism resign for refusing to implement the list or being passive about it."

This image captured from Yonhap News TV shows President Park Geun-hye (L) and her jailed friend Choi Soon-sil, with the office of the special independent counsel in the background. (Yonhap)

It billed the act as a violation of the constitutional powers to appoint and dismiss government officials and the constitutional principles of a cultural nation.

Allegations about the blacklist surfaced after Park's impeachment through a former culture minister who claimed to have seen it. That minister was dismissed in 2014, while six other senior ministry officials were allegedly pressured to tender their resignations. Three of them were eventually dismissed.

The list was allegedly created to ban thousands of artists critical of the conservative administration from state support.

A special counsel team has recently named Park as an accomplice in drawing up the blacklist and arrested a number of top former officials in connection with the case. The president has denied knowledge of the list.

Her attorneys protested the added charge, saying the panel effectively changed the impeachment motion.

"They're free to submit a statement, but if they want to add a charge, they should ask parliament to endorse it again," an official close to the team said.

Park's lawyers have recently been accused of trying to stall the proceedings with requests to summon a growing number of witnesses to testify in court. On Wednesday, they asked the court to summon 15 witnesses, including Choi, who testified last month.

Lee Joong-hwan, one of the attorneys, revealed in a text message to reporters that the 15 also include Lee Jae-yong, de facto leader of Samsung Group, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin and POSCO CEO Kwon Oh-joon.

All four conglomerates gave large "donations" to two nonprofit foundations controlled by Choi. They have denied the money was a bribe for favors.

The court has yet to announce whether it will accept the request.


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