President Park Geun-hye Decides Not to Appear at Final Hearing of Impeachment Trial

President Park Geun-hye Decides Not to Appear at Final Hearing of Impeachment Trial

SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye decided not to appear at the final hearing of her impeachment trial slated for this week, her lawyers said Sunday.

   The lawyers said they informed the Constitutional Court of Park's decision by phone, though they will submit Park's written testimony to the court.

   The Constitutional Court confirmed that it was informed of Park's decision by one of the lawyers by phone.

   The Constitutional Court is set to hold the last argument session Monday to review whether to reinstate or oust Park who was impeached in December by parliament over a corruption scandal involving her and her close friend.

   The top court is examining the legality of the impeachment motion following the eruption of the scandal centered on Park and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

   Park is alleged to have colluded with Choi in extorting money and favors from local conglomerates. She is also suspected of allowing Choi to meddle in state affairs.

   The president has rejected all such claims as being false and exaggerated.

   The court, now with an eight-member bench, is widely expected to deliver a ruling by March 13 when acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi is set to retire. Her departure will create another vacancy on the nine-member bench, with former Chief Justice Park Han-chul retiring last month.

   The ruling Liberty Korea Party, meanwhile, raised questions about the fairness of the eight-member bench, claiming a new judge should be appointed.

The court, however, dismissed reports Friday that a new justice needs to be named to the bench, saying Park's impeachment trial will move forward within the preset time frame.

   The court is widely expected to deliver a ruling by March 13, when acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi is set to retire.

   If Park is ousted, South Korea is required to hold a presidential election within 60 days. If she is reinstated, an election will be held in December as scheduled.'
 

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