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Thursday, February 16, 2017, 18:16

South Korea court plans to end impeachment hearings Feb 24

By Agencies

South Korea court plans to end impeachment hearings Feb 24
This Feb 26, 2015 photo shows South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye waiting for the arrival of Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka at the presidential Blue House. Park was impeached by parliament in December over a corruption scandal that tapped into mounting economic and social frustrations and brought millions of people onto the streets in weekly protests. (ED JONES / POOL / AFP)
SEOUL – South Korea's Constitutional Court plans to wrap up hearings over parliament's impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on Feb 24, Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.

The court did not give a date for giving its verdict after closing arguments but said it would make a swift decision to minimize the gap in the country's leadership, according to Yonhap.

The Constitutional Court indicated passing its ruling around March 10 given that it takes as long as two weeks to reach a conclusion following the final arguments

Park was impeached by parliament in December amid suspicions that she helped her friend Choi Soon-sil extort money and favors from companies and allowed the woman to manipulate state affairs. The parliament also stripped of her powers pending the court's ruling. If the court upholds the impeachment, a presidential election will be held two months later.

Lee Jung-mi, the court's acting chief justice, said in the 14th session that hearings will be completed on Feb 24, asking plaintiffs and defendants to prepare for final arguments on the date.

ALSO READ : Park rejects accusations against her

The court has been deliberating whether to permanently remove President Park Geun-hye from office or reinstate her since the motion to impeach the scandal-scarred leader was passed in the parliament on Dec 9.

The 15th and 16th sessions are scheduled for next Monday and Wednesday before the final arguments on Friday.

ALSO READ: Park's confidante shouts out her innocence

The chief judge's comments indicated the court's ruling may come around March 10 given that it takes as long as two weeks to reach a conclusion following the final arguments.

President Park's legal team called for the delay of the final arguments, but even if the call is accepted, the ruling is forecast to be handed down before the court's acting chief retires on March 13.

To uphold the impeachment motion, six of the remaining eight justices are required to vote in favor of the bill. If the ruling is made in the absence of another judge, it can severely damage its legitimacy.

A presidential election is required to be held in 60 days if the court upholds the bill.

Also on Thursday, the Seoul Administrative Court denied a bid by prosecutors to force aides of impeached President Park to comply with a search on the presidential compound .

The court decision was an apparent setback for the special prosecution team that must conclude its inquiry into Park's corruption allegations by the end of the month.

The prosecutors filed the lawsuit last week after Park's aides blocked them from searching the presidential Blue House although they had a search warrant.

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