President' fate to be determined Friday 11 a.m.
Mar 9, 2017
A male protestor, left, urges the Constitutional Court to uphold the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, while a woman holds a placard calling for the rejection of the impeachment at the court's office in Seoul, Wednesday. The court will deliver its ruling on the impeachment Friday. / Yonhap

Constitutional Court to rule on Park's impeachment

The Constitutional Court will deliver its ruling on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye at 11 a.m. Friday.

Bae Bo-yoon, a spokesman for the court, announced the date after the eight justices spent two-and-a-half hours in behind closed door deliberations, which started at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

“The ruling will be broadcast live,” Bae said.

If six or more of the justices vote in favor of impeachment, the President will be immediately removed from her post.

In that case, with her presidential immunity from prosecution gone, she will no longer be able to dodge the investigation into her alleged crimes, including bribery that could put her behind prison for life.

If less than six of the judges vote for impeachment, she will retain her position as head of state, which has been suspended since the National Assembly impeached her, Dec. 9.

Friday will be a crucial day for her and the nation.

According to law, if the impeachment ruling goes against Park, acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn must appoint a date for the next presidential election within two months. This means voting will likely take place in early May.

All four opposition parties welcomed the court's announcement.

“We believe the court will make a sensible decision that 80 percent of the people long for,” Rep. Park Kyung-mee, the spokeswoman for the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, said. “Park should not resign before then and await the ruling.”

Rep. Kim Kyung-jin, spokesman for the People's Party, said he had no doubt that the court will uphold the impeachment.

“A majority of lawmakers already voted for the impeachment and it has been sufficiently proven why they had to,” he said. “Everyone should accept the court's decision calmly. There should not be any protest or disobedience.”

The Bareun Party, which was once part of the ruling party, said if the court votes against the impeachment all of its 32 lawmakers will resign to shoulder responsibility for the result.

“The nation is seriously divided over the issue. It's time to unite it again,” Rep. Oh Shin-hwan, the spokesman for the party, said.

A representative for the President also said she will expect to see a “wise decision” from the court.

It is unclear whether the eight justices have already reached a unanimous decision.

When asked, the court spokesman said he could not confirm anything.

Park is the second Korean president to be impeached by the National Assembly. In 2004, then-President Roh Moo-hyun was impeached by parliament, but was reinstated by the court two months later.

A massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal involving her friend Choi Soon-sil pushed lawmakers to impeach Park.

While most of the people involved in the scandal have been indicted over their alleged crimes, Park, named as an accomplice of Choi by the prosecution and an independent counselor investigating the scandal, has been able to avoid questioning thanks to presidential immunity from prosecution.

Source:The Korea Times

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