Court plans first hearing on Park’s impeachment

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Court plans first hearing on Park’s impeachment

South Korea’s Constitutional Court reviewing President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment motion over corruption allegations said Tuesday it will hold the first preparatory hearing later this week.

The Council of Justices of the nine-member court decided to hold the session on Thursday at 2 p.m., the court’s spokesman Bae Bo-yoon told reporters during a press briefing.

The court is reviewing the parliament’s decision on Dec. 9 to oust Park over suspicions she let her close friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs and amass profits using her ties to the president.

Since the National Assembly’s vote, Park has been suspended of all powers and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has been the country’s acting president.

Park’s attorneys, however, have dismissed all impeachment charges, urging the court to reject the parliamentary decision to impeach her.

The Constitutional Court has up to 180 days from the passage date to make the final decision on whether to approve the impeachment or reinstate her. If she is officially ousted, South Korea has to hold a presidential election within two months.

The court’s preparatory procedures are meant for the involved parties to discuss how the upcoming court hearings should proceed. It is not mandatory for the involved parties - Park and the parliament - to attend.

“The procedures are usually attended by their lawyers,” Bae said.

The hearing will be open to the public if there are no other exceptional reasons, according to the spokesperson.

The court will also announce its decision on the appeal lodged by Park’s attorneys to overturn its request to review documents from the prosecution’s investigation into the scandal, Bae said.

“It is unlikely that the preparatory session will be completed with one hearing as there are lot of issues and evidence to be reviewed,” a court official said, asking not be named. “If relevant parties cooperate with the court procedures, the preparation can be done within this year and the official trial might be able to begin early next year.” [YONHAP]

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