President Park's Legal Team Lays Out Rebuttal to Impeachment Motion
SEOUL, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye said Sunday her impeachment motion passed by parliament earlier this month lacked sufficient legal grounds, adding no serious crime was committed to warrant her being dismissed from office.
Park was impeached on Dec. 9 by the National Assembly on corruption charges centered on her decades-long friendship with Choi Soon-sil, with the Constitutional Court currently reviewing the legitimacy of the motion.
The president's legal representatives stressed that all allegations raised so far are not backed by solid evidence. They made clear that Park did not seriously break the country's law that would justify the impeachment.
Park also denied her involvement in any suspected wrongdoings by Choi, who allegedly meddled in state affairs and used her friendship with the chief executive for personal gains.
Moreover, the representatives said she was not granted an opportunity to defend herself in the procedure.
Through the statement, Park's representatives argued with each article of the impeachment motion, adding it had "serious legal deficiencies."
Among others, representatives said the motion, which cited her low approval ratings, as well as the number of protesters, cannot be considered to be objective.
The controversial Mir and K-Sports Foundations, which forced conglomerates to chip in donations under Choi's control, is also "only a fraction" of Park's numerous projects, and that the president never received benefits from the entities, the representatives pointed out.
In public addresses made after the scandal erupted in late October, Park repeatedly said she only had pure motives in the creation of Mir and K-Sports that are linked to Choi, and that if she did something wrong, it was not keeping better track of those around her.
Park also faithfully played her role in handling a tragic ferry sinking in 2014, adding that her perceived insufficient response cannot be a reason for impeachment. The parliamentary motion had added that Park failed to protect the safety of the people as stipulated by the Constitution by failing to properly deal with the deadly sinking of the Sewol ferry, which claimed more than 300 lives.
The president's attorneys also made clear that Park was not directly responsible for the leak of presidential documents, and that whether the documents were confidential at all remains controversial.
The scandal surfaced after a local broadcaster disclosed a tablet PC presumed to be used by Choi, which held files containing presidential addresses. The ownership of the tablet is still being debated since Choi has said it did not belong to her.
"Choi did not exert influence on state affairs, and we ask those making the accusations to come up with concrete proof," the representatives said. They said by linking Park to Choi and holding the president accountable violated clear rules that ban guilt by association.
The representatives then said the impeachment process effectively violated the fundamental idea of "presumption of innocence," adding the motion should be turned down by the Constitutional Court.
Park aides have long argued that the impeachment motion was pushed forward for political motives and to appease public anger that was itself based on unfounded rumors, instead of examining all the legal issues in an objective manner.
"Even if there is evidence of offenses, none are so serious to justify an impeachment," they said, adding alleged bribery charges against Park should be weighed after a local court's ruling.
The parliament's committee carrying out follow-up steps for impeachment, meanwhile, said it will release a rebuttal on Park's claim by Thursday.'