March 09, 2017 09:31
The Constitutional Court on Wednesday said it will deliver its ruling on the fate of President Park Geun-hye on Friday, 91 days after the National Assembly voted to impeach her.
Acting chief justice Lee Jung-mi and seven other judges reached the decision after more than two hours of deliberation in the afternoon. Court spokesman Bae Bo-yoon told reporters the ruling will be broadcast live due to the intense public interest.
The court put 25 witnesses on the stand over 17 sessions from Jan. 3 to Feb. 27. The National Assembly accuses Park of 13 offenses, and prosecutors turned over 20,000 pages of records from their investigation into the massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal.
But Park denied everything. In a written submission to the court on Feb. 27, she said, "I have never been involved in corruption or graft during my political journey."
Eight justices remain on the bench after Chief Justice Park Han-chul retired in January, and a ruling requires at least six to agree.
If Park is ousted, a new presidential election must be held within 60 days, so Koreans will go to the polls in late April or early May. But if more than three justices rule against impeachment, Park will regain her powers until the next regular presidential election on Dec. 20.
Police are on high alert for the day of the ruling in case protesters supporting or opposing Park clash or otherwise react violently to the decision. The state of alert will go into effect on Thursday and last until Saturday.
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