January 11, 2017 13:41
The impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye continues to face disruptions from key witnesses and Park's lawyers. Choi Soon-sil, Park's longtime crony at the center of the massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal, as well as former Park aides An Chong-bum and Jeong Ho-seong again failed to obey their summons to the third hearing on Tuesday.
The three are key figures in the scandal, and Tuesday's court session was expected to serve as a pivotal point in the impeachment trial. Instead it got nowhere.
On Monday, former presidential secretaries Ahn Bong-geun and Lee Jae-man were also no-shows. They seem to have gone into hiding.
All the witnesses gave eerily similar excuses for being unable to present themselves at the impeachment trial. They all claimed they need to prepare for their criminal trials and an ongoing investigation into the scandal by an independent counsel. Choi took the prize by telling each that she was needed by the other.
Park is also refusing to cooperate with the Constitutional Court. Asked for a lengthy written account of what she remembered doing during the "missing seven hours" on the morning of the 2014 ferry disaster, she instead furnished a few pages of orders she supposedly gave and briefings she supposedly received. The court dismissed the account as "insufficient" while her lawyers blustered about trivial matters that former presidents are also supposed to have been doing.
But this farce is nothing but a blatant attempt to sabotage the impeachment trial and buy more time. The terms of two of the nine Constitutional Court judges end before March 13, and Park seems to hope that a smaller bench has less of a chance of achieving the majority needed to impeach her, while public anger will somehow miraculously abate.
One of the many foolish things Park's lawyers have said by way of filibustering is that the massive candlelight protests against Park were instigated by North Korea. But the responsibility for the current chaos is Park's alone. If she feels even an iota of guilt, she needs to stop this farce now. The Constitutional Court must be firm and compel her to explain herself.
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