February 10, 2017 10:34
The Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered the prosecution and defense in President Park Geun-hye's impeachment trial to submit their final arguments by Feb. 23.
Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said the court wants them to "clearly summarize all the claims and evidence presented so far."
That suggests the court is determined to wrap up the case before Lee retires on March 13 despite apparent attempts by Park's legal team to stall proceedings.
Lee said the court will not give witnesses another chance to testify if they fail to show up without a reasonable explanation in extra hearings scheduled until Feb. 22.
Hwang Jung-geun, a member of the parliamentary panel serving as the prosecution said the request "is very significant since we can expect the end of the trial around that date."
But Lee Joong-hwan for Park's defense warned the court's order can be "interpreted differently," suggesting that his team are still determined to drag things out as long as possible.
Lee told reporters after the day's hearing that he could ask Park to appear before the court.
A Constitutional Court official said, "The defendant has the right to appear before the court and deliver his or her final testimony after all of the evidence has been presented. But this is a matter for the judge to decide."
But Judge Lee said in her closing statement in the day's hearing that she is "concerned" about predictions being made regarding the timing of the court's ruling which could "damage the fairness" of the trial.
She urged both the prosecution and defense to refrain from comments that could damage public confidence in the trial.
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