SKorean President again absent from impeachment trial

Seoul, Jan 5 (IANS) South Korean President Park Geun-hye was again absent from her impeachment trial on Thursday as the Constitutional Court proceeded to review her case.

Park, whose presidential powers have been suspended pending a court decision, was asked to testify after she skipped the first formal hearing on Tuesday, Yonhap News Agency reported.

However, the law does not require her attendance, and her lawyers have said she was likely to remain absent from the proceedings.

Confirming her absence, the nine-member bench opened the session to the oral arguments of Park’s lawyers and the National Assembly that impeached her on December 9, 2016, over a corruption scandal linked to her confidante, Choi Soon-sil.

Rep. Kwon Seong-dong, chairman of the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee, called on the justices to remove Park from office, saying her actions amounted to a violation of the Constitution and the law.

He especially cited allegations that the president gave confidential documents to Choi Soon-sil and extorted large sums of money from conglomerates with the aim of benefiting her confidante.

Lee Joong-hwan, one of Park’s attorneys, rebutted the accusations, citing a lack of evidence and even legal basis.

He also denied that the President pressured Samsung to make large donations to two culture and sports foundations in return for her backing of a merger between two Samsung affiliates.

Park has insisted on her innocence, saying the allegations against her have been fabricated. She has also claimed that any possible wrong-doings were done without her knowledge.

Choi too has contested the corruption charges levelled against her and denied any conspiracy between her and the president. State prosecutors have named Park an accomplice in Choi’s indictment.

The court is scheduled to hear from four key witnesses later in the day, but their attendance remains unclear.

It has until early June to decide whether to unseat or reinstate Park.

–IANS

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