South Korea’s president is being officially removed from office. The Constitutional Court is upholding Park Geun-hye’s impeachment by the National Assembly.
South Koreans will vote on a new president within 60 days.
The ruling makes Park the first democratically elected president in the country to be dismissed in this way.
The court’s acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi read the ruling on the impeachment, broadcast live nationwide, saying it was the unanimous decision of eight justices.
The acting chief justice said the court had made all-out efforts for a fair judgment, hoping their decision would become a base to lead South Korea towards reconciliation and remedy by ending division and chaos.
Lee, who is scheduled to retire on Monday, dismissed a request for retrial from Park’s legal team, which demanded a full court’s judgement by nine justices. The former chief justice stepped down on Jan. 31 after his term terminated, leaving one vacancy and Lee was nominated as the acting chief justice.
She said there had been no procedural error in the eight-justice court’s decision.
Parliament’s impeachment motion was part of the fallout of an influence-peddling scandal involving Park and a longtime friend. It deeply divided the nation.
South Korean prosecutors have already indicted Choi Soon-sil on charges including abuse of power.
Choi’s accused of pressuring companies into donating 65 million dollars to non-profit foundations she’s linked to.
The special prosecutor says Park is suspected of colluding with Choi to give money.
South Korean prosecutors indicted the president’s longtime friend Choi Soon-sil and 2 of her former close aides on charges including abuse of power.
The prosecutors also concluded that the president had conspired with the 3 in many aspects of the crimes.
They said President Park had directly urged the heads of business conglomerates to donate to foundations linked to Choi.
The announcement fueled the opposition-led campaign to unseat Park.
In December, a motion to impeach President Park was approved by parliament.
The Constitutional Court then began hearings on the parliamentary decision.
Meanwhile, Park Young-soo, a special prosecutor authorized to act independently of the government, took over the investigation into Park’s alleged influence-peddling for 90 days.
He concluded that President Park had conspired with Choi to receive bribes of about 25 million dollars from the Samsung Group, in the form of investments in foundations linked to Choi.
He also said that Park colluded with a former minister of culture to blacklist cultural figures considered critical of her administration and cut off their state support.
The former minister has been indicted on charges of abuse of power.
The results of the special prosecutor’s investigations are not directly linked with the Constitutional Court’s proceedings. But opposition parties say the judges should take the results into consideration.
Both the prosecutors and the special prosecutor had wanted to question Park face-to-face.
But although she expressed a willingness to cooperate with the investigators, she never met with them.In South Korea, an incumbent president is exempt from criminal prosecution. But if the Constitutional Court upholds Park’s impeachment, she could face arrest and indictment.Media agencies & NHK