Impeachment flawed, charges untrue and there's no evidence: S Korean president Park

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."

Read also: The empty days of S. Korea's impeached president Park Geun-hye

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.

Tens of thousands of South Koreans stage protest in Seoul calling for President Park Geun Hye to resign

  • Tens of thousands of unionized workers staged a general strike and students boycotted classes Wednesday, upping pressure on President Park Geun-hye to resign.
  • Demanding the president's immediate resignation, civic groups, the workers and students vowed to hold a large-scale rally Saturday.
  • An association of 500 civic groups declared Wednesday as "a day of citizens' resistance," staging rallies in front of City Hall in central Seoul and in major cities from 3 p.m. More universities also joined a boycott of classes to ramp up pressure on Park.
  • "Ignoring people's calls for an immediate resignation, Park shifted responsibility (for her resignation) to the parliament," Choi Jong-jin, acting chief of the nation's second-largest umbrella labour union KCTU, said during the rally in central Seoul.
  • Some 220,000 workers from the public transport, public service, construction and education industries under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions joined the partial strike by taking a day off or leaving work early.
  • Students from 17 universities, including Sookmyung Women's University, Sogang University and Korea University, began to boycott their classes Friday. A few more schools including Seoul National University and Kookmin University joined the boycott Wednesday. Incheon University, Inha University and Pusan National University will join the move from Thursday.
  • Starting at 4 p.m., some 20,000 laborers marched across central Seoul and stopped at the headquarters of major conglomerates including Samsung, SK, Lotte, GS and Hanhwa, which are suspected of contributing money to the K-Sports and Mir foundations set up and run by Park's close confidante Choi Soon-sil.
  • The rally organizers initially planned to march to a fountain only 100 meters away from the presidential office, but the police blocked their plan, citing traffic disruption.
  • The sixth anti-Park rally will be held Saturday at Gwanghwamun Square. As with last Saturday's rally, organizers said some 100,000 participants will completely surround the presidential office from several locations starting from 4 pm.
  • Tens of thousands of South Koreans protested in central Seoul on Saturday (Nov 5) in one the largest demonstrations in the country's capital for years, calling on embattled President Park Geun Hye to resign over a growing influence-peddling scandal.
  • Roughly 43,000 people were at the candle-lit rally early on Saturday (Nov 5) evening, according to police. Organisers said a growing crowd of 100,000 had assembled, making the protest one of the biggest since demonstrations in 2008 against US beef imports.
  • Park Geun Hye has been rocked by a scandal involving an old friend who is alleged to have used her closeness to the president to meddle in state affairs. Ms Park has pledged to cooperate with prosecutors in an investigation.
  • Koreans have been angered by the revelations and say Ms Park, the latest South Korean leader to be embroiled in a scandal involving family or friends, has betrayed public trust and mismanaged her government.
  • Her approval rating has slipped to just 5 per cent according to a Gallup poll released on Friday (Nov 4), the lowest number for a South Korean president since such polling began in 1988.
  • Police said they had deployed 17,600 officers and 220 units including buses and mobile barriers to Saturday's protest. Police in riot gear lined the alleys and streets leading to the presidential Blue House as the main body of the demonstration began the march through central Seoul.
  • Ms Park has sacked many of her immediate advisers over the crisis. A former aide, Jeong Ho Seong, was arrested on Thursday (Nov 3) on suspicion of leaking classified information, a prosecution official told Reuters.
  • No South Korean president has ever failed to finish their five-year term, but Ms Park has faced growing pressure from the public and political opponents to quit.
  • "Even though we're just students, we feel like we can't put up with this unreasonable society anymore so we're participating in this protest with like-minded friends," said Mr Byun Woo Hyuk, an 18-year-old high school student holding a banner calling on the president to resign.