Park must take the standFormer President Park Geun-hye’s trial has gone on without her. The bench proceeded with a trial in absentia because Park has refused to attend the first hearing without “just cause” and because the detention center cannot force her to show up given her “status as a former head of the state.”
Park refused to see a state-appointed lawyer and chose to give up her right to defense. The first trial sentence is expected to be delivered without hearing Park’s side of the story in her own voice, despite attempts to allow her to do so.
The boycott was expected. She declared that she lost faith in the bench to judge on the basis of constitutional grounds and conscience when the extension in her detention was confirmed last month. She disbanded her lawyers and waged a silent protest behind bars against what she called a “political vendetta.” She has the right to surrender her right of self-defense and be absent in a trial against her. The court could proceed with a one-sided argument from state prosecutors. Although there is nothing illegal about the procedure, the trial cannot be deemed fair. The defendant’s side could later challenge the court ruling.
The trial is a landmark case to determine what led to the first removal of an elected state leader and draw a historic lesson not to repeat. To be true to the purpose, Park must come to the witness stand. Whether she wants to admit it or not, her fall from grace is through her own fault.
She must frankly speak on her years as president and face the judgment of the court. The bench must come up with more inventive ways to draw Park to the courtroom. We cannot let the historical trial and momentum go to waste.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 29, Page 34