President Park's lawyer wants more time to prepare for historic questioning
SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye's attorney on Tuesday called for more time to prepare for a planned inquiry into the embattled head of state over her alleged link to a corruption and influence-peddling scandal involving her close confidante.
Just a day after his appointment as Park's legal representative, Yoo Yeong-ha effectively rejected the prosecution's request to question Park by Wednesday, saying he needs "considerable time" to review the high-profile case that has plunged Park into the worst crisis of her political career.
"The prosecution has unilaterally notified (the presidential office) of the schedule (for questioning the president)," Yoo told reporters. "If we are ready, we would, of course, respond to the request, but I was just appointed yesterday."
The attorney also expressed his preference for the prosecution carrying out the inquiry in written form, though saying "if it is inevitable," a face-to-face questioning session will also be accepted.
Yoo, in addition, said that the unprecedented probe into the sitting president must be carried out in a way that "minimizes" any impact on her official duties. He also cited a constitutional clause that stipulates the president is immune from prosecution except in cases of insurrection or treason.
"The investigation or trial for the president, while he or she is still in office, could paralyze state affairs and divide public opinion," he said. "Thus, there are minimal constitutional safeguards and an investigation into the president is inappropriate unless he or she is involved in certain serious crimes"
Earlier in the day, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae announced Yoo, a former member of the standing committee of the National Human Rights Commission, as the president's legal representative.
Park faces suspicions that she played some sort of role in pressuring major conglomerates into donating large sums of money to two nonprofit foundations, which legal experts say could constitute an abuse of authority.
She is also suspected of allowing her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to gain access to advance drafts of presidential speeches and documents, some of which reportedly include classified information.
This suspicion raises the possibility of Park violating the law concerning the handling of presidential records or official secrets.
Yoo's relations with the president date back to 2010 when he served as a legal advisor to Park, who was then a member of the Supreme Council of the Grand National Party, a precursor to the ruling Saenuri Party.
After passing a bar exam in 1992, Yoo served as prosecutor for some seven years in district offices in Seoul, Changwon, Cheongju and Incheon. Since 2004, he has worked as an attorney.'