South Korean president skips first impeachment hearing

The country's parliament voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye last month over a corruption scandal involving family friend Choi Soon-sil, but her lawyers argue the decision has no legal basis.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The hearing in the Constitutional Court has been postponed until Thursday. The court cannot force Park to attend, but the hearing can continue without her if she refuses to attend for a second time.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye did not attend the first Constitutional Court session on her impeachment on Tuesday, leading it to be postponed until Thursday, after a nine-minute hearing.

Park’s decision not to attend has come under criticism from lawmakers. Lee Jung-hwan, her lawyer, said she also does not plan to appear on Thursday and will probably not testify during the impeachment hearing.

TRT World's U-Jean Jung has more.

Background to the hearing

South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament voted to impeach Park on December 9 over a corruption scandal involving her close friend Choi Soon-sil.

Park has been accused of helping Choi extort money and favours from companies, granting her access to documents, and allowing her influence in government affairs.

Choi’s father Tae-min led a religious cult and is rumoured to have had a strong influence over Park and her father Chung-hee – a military strongman who was also president from 1961 until his assassination in 1979. Photo: Choi Soon-sil arrives for her first court hearing in Seoul, South Korea, December 19, 2016.

Choi's daughter, Yoora Chung, was arrested in Denmark on Monday, with South Korean authorities requesting her extradition in relation to the case.

The scandal led to huge protests demanding Park's removal from office, and demonstrations in support of her in response.

The Constitutional Court has up to 180 days to uphold Park's impeachment or reinstate her. If the court formally removes Park from office, a presidential election will be held within 60 days.

TRTWorld and agencies