Prosecuting lawmakers accused South Korean President Park Geun-hye of "broadly and gravely" violating the Constitution, as the Constitutional Court began hearing oral arguments yesterday in her impeachment trial.
South Korea's nine-member Constitutional Court formally opened the trial against Park, who prosecutors say used her power to help a longtime friend extort $69 million from some of South Korea's biggest conglomerates, including Hyundai and Samsung, and use the funds for personal expenses.
The South Korean parliament chose to impeach the president on December 9 after it transpired that Choi, a close friend of Park who does not hold any official posts in the government or the president's administration, edited the president's speeches and possibly used her ties to Park for her own financial benefit.
We are also now finally hearing a detailed defence from Park's legal team, going point by point through the various allegations against her.
"The court is requested to fire the president so that impaired constitutional order can be restored", said Kwon Seong-Dong, a lawmaker for the prosecution.
The hearing proceeded without Ms Park, who refused to testify for the second time following her no-show on Tuesday.
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"Park was oblivious of her duties as the head of the state and the leader of the administration and committed grave violations of the Constitution and laws while performing her duty", Kweon said.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn is serving as Acting President while the Constitutional Court decides what happens to Ms Park.
On Thursday Choi was brought to the Seoul Central District Court to face the first hearing of her criminal trial.
Choi is also charged with interfering in state matters, despite not holding any public office and of having pressurised large companies, including Samsung, to donate huge sums of money to non-profit foundations headed by her. For their part, Park supporters have staged rallies in solidarity with the much-maligned president. The court summoned An Bong-geun and Lee Jae-man, former presidential secretaries, and two staffers, Lee Yeong-seon and Yun Jeon-chu. She had even said that any possible misconduct was done without her knowledge. If she is forced to step down, a new presidential election will be held within two months of the ruling.
"Ever since she was a presidential candidate, the president has taken a great interest in the culture and sports sectors with the sole objective of promoting the two sectors", he said. Her lawyers have indicated that she does not intend to attend future proceedings.
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