The parliament's impeachment of President Park Geun-hye was a flawed process, based on false accusations with no evidence, according to the first argument made by Park's legal representatives.
The 28-page written statement, submitted to the Constitutional Court on Friday, was revealed to the media Sunday by a parliamentary team tasked with the upcoming impeachment trial.
Park, with 14 months left in her five-year term, was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9 after an explosive scandal that revealed her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil has been meddling in state affairs. The conservative president was charged with 18 violations of the Constitution and laws.
While rejecting all of the listed charges, Park's attorneys stressed it is untrue that Choi extensively meddled in state affairs, including appointments of high-level government officials.
The special parliamentary team, who will act as "prosecutors" in the historic trial, plans to make a counterargument detailing what merits her removal by Thursday again via written statements to the top court, the team said Sunday.
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Chaired by Rep. Kwon Sung-dong, the head of the National Assembly Judiciary Committee, the team had its first meeting with legal representatives to prepare for a legal battle with the sanctioned president.
"Tens of thousands of people are staging massive (anti-president) rallies every Saturday, demanding the whole truth (of this scandal) and punishment of those who are responsible," Rep. Kwon of the ruling Saenuri Party said.
"Opinions may vary, but I believe everyone (in this bipartisan team) would agree that the core values of our Constitution, undermined by this scandal, must be restored as quickly as possible."
The following is a summary of Park's written statement as revealed Sunday:
- The impeachment motion predicates unconfirmed allegations and thereby violates the presumption of innocence.
- Shifting the blame to Park for what Choi Soon-sil did violates a principle that bans collective punishment.
- There is no evidence that Choi and others exerted power over state affairs or in appointments of government officials. The Mir Foundation and K-Sports Foundation were only part of the presidential duty, and not for her personal gain. Park was not aware of Choi's embezzlement.
- The president may have consulted others in appointing officials, but did not abuse the authority, as she made the final decisions.
- Park did not force conglomerates or their affiliates to make donations. The firms stated in the prosecutorial probe that they contributed voluntarily.
- Park did not exert undue pressure on the management of media corporations, including local daily Segye Ilbo.
- The Sewol ferry incident was a tragic accident, but not reason to impeach the president.
- Park's direction to actively help small and middle-sized companies to the presidential aide was part of her duty and does not constitute bribery.
- It is not clear if the speech drafts and other presidential documents were considered confidential documents, and they were not delivered to Choi under Park's instruction.
Park's lawyers concluded there is no legitimate evidence nor grave violation of law to justify impeachment. Regarding bribery allegations, any charge should be decided after the court tries Choi, they said.