January 04, 2017 10:54
The Constitutional Court held its first hearing on Tuesday on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
Constitutional Court President Park Han-chul and eight other judges ended the hearing after only nine minutes because the president failed to show up and answer questions.
Because of the intense public interest, the court allocated 44 out of 112 seats in the courtroom to the public and the gallery filled up 30 minutes before the hearing began.
The judges decided that the president can be represented by her lawyers in upcoming sessions. The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Lawmakers slammed Park for failing to show up despite arranging a comfortable chat with reporters on Sunday to deny all the allegations in the massive corruption scandal.
"It is a basic courtesy to reveal all the facts inside the courtroom rather than in the court of public opinion," said Kwon Seong-dong, the chief of the National Assembly panel that acts as the prosecution.
But Park's legal representative Lee Joong-hwan said the president is unlikely to attend future hearings "unless there are special circumstance" and added that the law provides for an impeachment trial to proceed in the absence of the defendant.
Former presidential secretaries Lee Jae-man and Ahn Bong-geun will be questioned as witnesses on Thursday along with two Cheong Wa Dae administrative staff, Lee Young-sun and Yoon Jeon-choo.
Other key suspects, including Park's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil and former presidential aides An Chong-bum and Jeong Ho-seong are expected to testify in later hearings.
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