Court to rule on Park's impeachment tomorrow

If her removal is upheld, Ms Park would become the first South Korean President to be sacked by impeachment.
If her removal is upheld, Ms Park would become the first South Korean President to be sacked by impeachment.

SEOUL • The political fate of South Korea's President Park Geun Hye will be decided by the nation's highest court tomorrow, a spokesman said, when it will rule on whether to confirm her impeachment.

Ms Park was impeached by Parliament in December over a major corruption and influence-peddling scandal that rocked the nation and prompted millions to take to the street to demand her ouster.

Eight judges at the Constitutional Court have been reviewing the validity of the motion. "The ruling on the impeachment of the President will be announced at 11am on March 10," a court spokesman said yesterday, adding that the decision would be televised live.

If her removal is upheld, Ms Park would become the first South Korean President to be sacked by impeachment, and an election to choose her successor would be held within 60 days. If it is rejected, Ms Park, who has been holed up in the presidential palace with her power suspended, would immediately return to office and stay until the end of her term in February next year.

The 65-year-old conservative President was elected in 2012 partly due to the popularity of her father and late army dictator, Mr Park Chung Hee.

But the scandal involving her secret confidante Choi Soon Sil has triggered a dramatic downfall of the leader who was once dubbed the "queen of elections" due to staunch support from conservative voters.

Choi is accused of using her presidential ties to force local companies to "donate" nearly US$70 million (S$99 million) to non-profit foundations. She allegedly used the money for personal gain.

She is on trial for abuse of power, coercion and fraud. Ms Park is accused of colluding with Choi to extract money from the companies and letting her friend handle state affairs, including nomination of Cabinet members.

A number of former presidential aides and Cabinet members have been arrested and charged with abuse of power or leaking secret state documents to Choi on Ms Park's orders.

Ms Park has denied all wrongdoing. If she is forced out, she would lose the executive privilege that protects her from criminal indictment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline 'Court to rule on Park's impeachment tomorrow'. Print Edition | Subscribe