NATIONAL

Park rebuts all impeachment charges

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Dec 16, 2016 - 17:39
  • Updated : Dec 16, 2016 - 17:39

President Park Geun-hye on Friday refuted the impeachment charges against her and demanded that the court dismiss the resolution, hinting that she would resist being ousted to the end.

“The impeachment is groundless and therefore should be dismissed,” said Lee Joong-hwan, one of the three attorneys representing Park at the Constitutional Court’s judgment.

Park’s legal representatives visited the top court in the afternoon to submit the president’s written statement on the impeachment resolution filed by the legislature on Dec. 9.

The resolution listed 13 charges -- five constitutional violations and eight legal offenses -- but the lawyers claim that these all lack legal grounds. 

Lee Joong-hwan (right), legal representative for President Park Geun-hye, visits the Constitutional Court on Friday to submit Park's written rebuttal to the impeachment resolution. Yonhap

“We will argue for both facts and legal responsibilities,” Lee said, alluding that Park will consent to none of the suggested allegations.

“As for the Sewol ferry tragedy, the president does not hold direct liability over the accident and thus may not be seen as having violated the people‘s (constitutional) right to life.”

Park will not show up in court throughout the upcoming monthslong court proceedings, according to the lawyer.

The Constitutional Court had demanded on Dec. 9 that the president submit an initial written answer by Friday.

As Cheong Wa Dae kept silent up to the deadline, speculations had mounted that the embattled president would delay the submission so as to set back the court’s impeachment decision process in the hopes that negative public sentiment would rebound.

But facing ongoing rallies asking for Park’s immediate ouster, the Blue House has decided to face the trial head-on.

Park, whose presidential authority is temporarily suspended, is to be deprived of power once and for all, if the court upholds the legislature’s impeachment decision. If this happens, a sooner-than-expected presidential election should be held within 60 days of the court’s decision.

Throughout the scandal that her confidante Choi Soon-sil meddled in a number of key state affairs, Park has repeatedly denied her involvement.

“Not for a single moment have I pursued my personal interests,” Park said in her third and final address to the nation delivered on Nov. 29.

“I have carried forward these state projects (which are suspected of being manipulated by Choi) for I believed them to be public business for the nation.”

She also denied exerting political pressure on conglomerates to fund the two organizations which were operated under Choi’s influence, the Mir Foundation and the K-Sports Foundation.

While the Constitutional Court gears up for its watershed judgment, the independent counsel team also accelerated its preparatory steps for a probe, seeking to raid the presidential office for evidence.

“Several warrants have been issued for the search (during the prosecutors’ regular investigation) but their execution has been thwarted,” said the team’s spokesperson Lee Kyu-chul.

“We are currently reviewing related laws to see if we may (raid the office).”

The special probe led by independent counsel Park Young-soo will be activated for 70 days from its official launch slated for next week, and may be extended by another month.

Lee also said that the team is discussing with the prosecution on whether to accept the court’s earlier request to submit investigation materials.

Though the special probe and the court’s judgment are to proceed on separate tracks, the Constitutional Court may request necessary materials from the probe team or any other government bodies, as long as they do not involve cases currently under investigation.

As the special probe is still in its preparatory stage, the court’s request is legitimate, though not binding.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)