January 18, 2017 13:14
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday decided not to admit a tablet PC allegedly used by President Park Geun-hye's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil as evidence in the impeachment trial.
The tablet PC allegedly contains crucial evidence tying Choi and Park to rampant corruption, but the court accepted argument from Park's lawyers that its provenance is dubious. But the court admitted the diaries of former presidential secretary An Chong-bum recording detailed instructions from Park.
The court is not tasked with establishing Park's criminal guilt or innocence beyond reasonable doubt but merely to judge whether the National Assembly's impeachment motion is constitutional.
Constitutional Court justice Kang Il-won said, "Choi's attorneys have objected to evidence presented by prosecutors so it was excluded."
Choi's lawyers have argued that her testimony was coerced and that the tablet PC was obtained illegally. The tablet was found by a reporter under circumstances that remain unclear, and rather than settling the question whether that constituted theft the court decided to set it aside.
Lawyers for Park also argued that An's diaries are inadmissible, but the court dismissed their reasoning.
The court will also review testimony from 46 suspects and witnesses to prosecutors earlier. All were questioned with a lawyer present and raised no objections.
They include An and fellow former Cheong Wa Dae secretary Jeong Ho-seong, and ex-vice culture minister Kim Jong and Cha Eun-taek, a promo director and drinking buddy of Choi's who came to baffling prominence in the Park years.
Both An and Jeong have told prosecutors that Park instructed them to squeeze conglomerates for donations to two dodgy foundations controlled by Choi, and that she repeatedly told them to send classified documents to Choi and pressed them for her feedback.
Other witnesses include Korea's leading tycoons, who all donated money to the two nonprofits and told prosecutors that it was Cheong Wa Dae that solicited donations either to the foundations or to Choi directly.
One lawyer and former researcher at the Constitutional Court said, "The decision not to admit the tablet PC as evidence may seem advantageous to Park, but the selection of testimony will work against her."
Park's attorneys also argued that prosecutors subjected some of the witnesses to undue duress by questioning them all night, but Kang said they all signed waivers.
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