December 19, 2016 11:26
President Park Geun-hye on Friday submitted a 24-page written statement to the Constitutional Court disputing every count of the impeachment bill against her.
"There is no reason for impeachment and the court must reject" the impeachment, her lawyer Lee Joong-hwan told reporters after submitting the statement in court. "It is impossible to accept her alleged violations, and there is no evidence for her legal offenses."
The impeachment bill accuses her of five violations of the Constitution and eight legal offenses, including bribery and inaction during the 2014 ferry disaster.
"The allegations are not true and there is no evidence to back them up." Park says in the submission. "They are based on mere suspicion, violating the presumption of innocence."
The statement claims that holding Park accountable for the transgressions of her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who allegedly roped the whole of Cheong Wa Dae into a bizarre extortion racket, constitutes "guilt by association."
Prosecutors have named Park as an accomplice in their indictments of Choi and two former Cheong Wa Dae secretaries who allegedly smoothed her path on Park's orders.
Park also continues to deny that she allowed Choi to meddle in state affairs. She claims her crony was involved in "less than one percent" of state affairs and there is no proof linking the president with her doings.
Park said she may have consulted others in appointing officials but did not abuse her authority since she made the final decisions. She also denies leaning on conglomerates to make vast donations to the dodgy Mir and K-Sports foundations, which were staffed with Choi's drinking buddies under the aegis of Cheong Wa Dae, and did not proffer favors in return.
The statement asks the Constitutional Court to set the question aside until the criminal trials of Choi and the other suspects are completed, which could potentially delay a decision for a long time.
Park also responded to the question of the notorious "missing seven hours," when she was nowhere to be found on the day of the ferry disaster, claiming there is concrete evidence that she instructed officials to take all necessary steps to rescue passengers.
The statement adds that any shortcomings in the rescue efforts, which led to the death of over 300 mostly teenage passengers, do not warrant impeachment. Lee said, "It was a terrible disaster, but the president is not directly responsible for it, and the president did not infringe on their right to life" -- which would be a constitutional offense.
Lawmakers accuse Park of dereliction of duty by failing to guarantee the safety of citizens during her mysterious absence.
Park's denials were expected but are a further signal that she is determined to cling to her nominal position and the immunity it provides for as long as possible.
It was met with swift condemnation from the opposition. Minjoo Party spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said the statement is filled with "absurd excuses" and "deceptions that militate against the public's common sense." She called the president a "hypocrite" for apologizing to the public in three earlier televised statements on which she now appears to be reneging.
People's Party spokesman Son Kum-ju said he could no longer even feel sympathy for Park, who had earlier elicited some pity for being so completely at her old friend's beck and call.
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