S Korean Prez refuses to testify in impeachment trial

Seoul, January 4
South Korean President Park Geun-hye refused to testify on Tuesday in the impeachment trial that will decide her future, prompting the prosecutors to question why she has publicly denied the charges of corruption but will not do so before the court.
After Park’s refusal, the Constitutional Court delayed the start of oral arguments and asked her to testify on Thursday, when some of her current and former aides are also scheduled to testify.
The court cannot force her to appear but can proceed without her if she refuses twice to appear at the hearings. Lawmaker Kweon Seong Dong, the chief prosecutor in the trial, questioned why Park cannot defend herself in court when just two days ago she vehemently rejected the accusations of corruption in a hastily arranged meeting with reporters at Seoul’s presidential Blue House.
“It’s not good etiquette to the justices and also inappropriate for the president, as the defendant of the impeachment trial, to say this and that to the media outside of court,” Kweon told reporters.
Lee Joong-hwan, Park’s lawyer, said she does not plan to appear Thursday and will probably not testify during the impeachment trial. The trial in the Constitutional Court must decide within six months of her December 9 impeachment whether Park should permanently step down or should be reinstated to office.
If the court formally removes Park from office, a presidential election will be held within 60 days.

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