Judgement day: South Korea’s top court to rule on President Park impeachment on Friday
The political fate of South Korea’s scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye will be decided by the country’s highest court on Friday, a spokesman said, when it will rule on whether to confirm her impeachment.
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 removal.
Eight judges at the constitutional court have been reviewing the validity of the motion.
“It has been decided that the ruling on the impeachment of the president will be announced at 11am on March 10,” a court spokesman said on Wednesday, adding the decision would be televised live.
If her removal is upheld, Park would become the first-ever 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, 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 2018.
The 65-year-old conservative president was elected in 2012 partly thanks to the popularity of her father and late army dictator, Park Chung-hee.
But the scandal involving her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil has triggered a dramatic downfall of the leader who once was dubbed the “queen of elections” due to staunch support from conservative voters. Choi is accused of using her presidential ties to force local firms to “donate” nearly US$70 million to charitable foundations she then allegedly used for personal gain. She is currently on trial for abuse of power, coercion and fraud.
Park is accused of colluding with Choi to extract money from the firms and letting the friend handle a wide range of state affairs, including the 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 at Park’s order.
Park has denied all wrongdoing. If she is forced out, she would lose the executive privilege that protects her from criminal indictment.
Thousands of her supporters have protested in Seoul and in front of the constitutional court in recent weeks, hurling personal threat against judges and vowing a “civil war” if she is sacked.