South Korean court to hold final impeachment hearing on Feb 27, verdict could be out by March 13: Report

South Korean President Park Geun Hye bows during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on Nov 29, 2016.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye bows during an address to the nation, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on Nov 29, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea's Constitutional Court will hold its final impeachment hearing to rule on the fate of President Park Geun Hye at the end of the month, Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday (Feb 22).

Park was impeached by parliament in December over a corruption scandal involving her close confidante Choi Soon Sil and her presidential powers were suspended pending the court's ruling.

The court initially planned to wrap up the hearings this week but postponed its decision to Feb 27 after "the president's attorneys asked for more time", Yonhap said, citing acting chief justice Lee Jung Mi. The final verdict could be out by March 13 at the earliest, the report added.

If the court upholds the impeachment, Park will be removed from her post immediately and a presidential election must be held within 60 days.

The scandal centres on Choi, who is accused of using her close ties with Park to force local firms to "donate" nearly US$70 million (S$99.6 million) to non-profit foundations which she allegedly used for personal gain.

The probe into the scandal has seen several senior government officials arrested and a handful of South Korea's most powerful businessmen questioned over their alleged involvement, including Samsung heir Lee Jae Yong who was taken into custody last week.