Published: Sat, March 11, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Five points of contention for Park impeachment

Five points of contention for Park impeachment

South Korea's Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country's conglomerates at a time of rising tensions with North Korea and China.

The 65-year-old, whose term as the 11th president of South Korea had been due to end in February 2018, was impeached by the local parliament on December 9 on multiple corruption charges, including allowing a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort money from big businesses such as Samsung.

It marks the first time a South Korean president has been driven from office before the end of their term since democracy replaced dictatorship in the late 1980s.

Shortly before 11:30am, Park Geun-hye was stripped of her powers and became a private citizen as soon as the Constitutional Court announced its decision.

"Judging from (Park's) words and deeds, law-breaking activities have been repeated and her determination to abide by the Constitution has not been shown", Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung Mi said in reading the verdict.

The unanimous decision given by all 8 judges would make Park, the first ever president of South-Korea to be ousted from office.

Park was accused of working with her friend Choi Soon-sil to extort tens of millions of dollars from businesses.

"Park concealed completely Choi's meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticized those who raised the suspicions", Justice Lee said.

In a written statement on Monday, Ms Park against said she was innocent of the charges but had "belated regret, that I should have been more cautious with my trust in her [Ms Choi]". Their investigations have led to the arrests of former government officials as well as Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung who is accused of bribing Park in return for business favors.

North Korean media, describing Park as "the witch of the Blue House", said her "horrible crimes" had been found to be "undeniable hard facts" by judges. This includes the presidential immunity against prosecution.

One ministry source who spoke to the South Korean news agency on the condition of anonymity said the ministry would evaluate the results of Park's unification and North Korea policies, and use the points as a guide to pursuing improved policy in the next administration.

Park's lawyers say she was staying in her "residence cum office", receiving situation reports by phone and issuing directives on rescue operations. She has been charged with coercion, bribery and attempted fraud.

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