President Park's Lawyers Accuse Constitutional Court Justice of Bias
SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye's lawyers on Wednesday demanded the removal of a justice from her impeachment trial over allegations of partiality.
Justice Kang Il-won, the lead justice for the case, should be removed for "unfairly" conducting the trial, a lawyer said at the the 16th hearing at the Constitutional Court. He accused Kang of allowing the National Assembly to alter its impeachment resolution by "illegal" means under the pretext of simplifying the charges.
After adjourning the session to discuss the request among the judges, acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi struck it down. She said the judges determined the request was aimed only at stalling the proceedings.
The lawyers earlier lodged a strong protest against the impeachment process, claiming the parliament's Dec. 9 vote to impeach the president was unconstitutional and fraught with legal flaws.
"To impeach (the president) for 13 reasons that are different in content and corresponding laws, there must be a separate vote on each of them," Kim Pyung-woo, a member of the defense team, said in a fevered appeal that lasted nearly two hours. "Even in the United States, which created the impeachment trial system, they vote on each separate issue."
Park was impeached on charges of letting her friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort money from conglomerates.
The motion passed by parliament is flawed because it lumps together offenses such as bribery, abuse of authority and extortion into one as if they are a "compound crime," the lawyer added.
Kim recently published a book titled "I Denounce the Impeachment." He joined the defense team last week as the court accelerated its review of the case.
The lawyer further claimed that the details of the impeachment resolution were not sent to the president.
"Where in the world is the president impeached and not even informed of the reasons?" he asked. "This kind of political oppression can only be seen in North Korea."
Lee Dong-heub, another lawyer and former Constitutional Court justice, made similar arguments in the president's defense, saying none of the grounds for impeachment warrant her ouster.
The impeachment process was triggered by Choi's attempts to use her ties to the president for personal gain, not the president's wrongdoing, he claimed.'