Lawyers for Park say im­peach­ment has no le­gal ba­sis

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL:

Lawyers for em­bat­tled South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye struck a de­fi­ant note yesterday, say­ing a par­lia­men­tary vote to im­peach her had no le­gal ba­sis and should be over­turned by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court. Park was in­dicted in a Dec. 9 vote by a wider-than-ex­pected 234-56 mar­gin, set­ting the stage for her to be­come the coun­try’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected leader to be ejected from of­fice.

“We see no grounds for im­peach­ment and it should be struck down,” Lee Joong-hwan, a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor who is part of the team rep­re­sent­ing Park, told re­porters gath­ered at the court build­ing where the fate of her pres­i­dency will be de­cided.

Her lawyers also said that it was un­likely that Park would ap­pear be­fore the court when it be­gins to hear the case. The court could take up to 180 days to reach a de­ci­sion.

Park, 64, whose fa­ther ruled the coun­try for 18 years af­ter seiz­ing power in a 1961 coup, is ac­cused of col­lud­ing with long-time friend Choi Soon­sil, who has been in­dicted and is in cus­tody, to pres­sure big busi­nesses to make con­tri­bu­tions to non-profit foundations back­ing pres­i­den­tial ini­tia­tives.

Park, who is serv­ing a sin­gle fiveyear term that is due to end in Fe­bru­ary 2018, has de­nied wrong­do­ing but apol­o­gized for care­less­ness in her ties with Choi.

She has re­fused wide­spread calls to re­sign im­me­di­ately, de­spite huge weekly protests and par­lia­ment’s over­whelm­ing vote for im­peach­ment, fu­elling con­cern the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis could drag on for months. But her lawyer said her le­gal team was look­ing to move quickly.

“We want a quick process and will not re­quest to de­lay it,” Lee said. Although stripped of her pres­i­den­tial pow­ers, which are be­ing wielded by the prime min­is­ter, Park re­tains her ti­tle and her of­fi­cial res­i­dence.

She has pres­i­den­tial im­mu­nity while in of­fice, but risks fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion upon her de­par­ture.

Ear­lier on Fri­day, an of­fi­cial in the pres­i­den­tial Blue House said par­lia­men­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tors would not get ac­cess to her of­fi­cial res­i­dence, cit­ing national se­cu­rity. —Reuters

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