Park’s final ruling to come Friday

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Park’s final ruling to come Friday

The Constitutional Court will announce Friday its ruling on whether to permanently remove President Park Geun-hye from office, the court said Wednesday. The ruling in the impeachment trial of Park will be announced at 11 a.m. on Friday.

The National Assembly passed a motion to impeach the president on Dec. 9, 2016, and the country has been divided between her supporters and critics for the past three months.

Immediately after the impeachment, the court started a trial to rule on the legitimacy of the lawmakers’ action. Park was impeached for allowing her inner circle, including longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, influence state affairs secretly for their private gain. Park was also accused of failing to protect the lives of more than 300 citizens during the sinking of Sewol ferry in April 2014.

If the court decides to endorse the National Assembly’s motion, Park will be the first president in the history of Korea to end her presidency after impeachment.

The judges are expected to hold a vote on Friday morning, immediately before announcing the ruling.

In the 2004 impeachment trial of President Roh Moo-hyun, the vote took place just an hour before the announcement. Roh was restored to office.

Sources at the Constitutional Court said both possible verdicts - one to permanently remove Park from office and the other to restore her presidency - are being written in advance because the vote will take place at the last minute.

Unlike in Roh’s case, the verdict won’t be anonymous. Each judge’s opinion will be made public based on revisions to the law governing the court.

Since the judges heard closing arguments on Feb. 27, they held deliberations six times as of Wednesday.

The court will allow TV networks to air the final ruling live and in its entirety.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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