Friday, 15 December, 2017

South Korea court orders Park removed from office

Johner Images | Getty Images Johner Images | Getty Images
Howard Terry | 12 March, 2017, 00:09

Two of the ousted leader's supporters were killed on Friday after the ruling sparked violent clashes. Police say protesters also smashed the windows of several buses.

A presidential election is to be held within 60 days, with local media reports suggesting May 9 as the most likely date.

A statement from acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn called for unity.

Ms Park had maintained her innocence throughout the proceedings.

Prime Minister Hwang, a Park loyalist, became acting president when parliament voted to impeach her on 9 December.

'The benefits of protecting the constitution that can be earned by dismissing the defendant are overwhelmingly big, ' she said.

"Whoever gets elected as the next South Korean president, turning over the agreement, such as the deployment of THAAD will be extremely hard", Cha Du-hyeogn, a former intelligence secretary to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, told NK News.

The Constitutional Court accused Ms Park of colluding with longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to extort tens of millions of dollars from businesses and letting Choi, a private citizen, meddle in state affairs and receive and look at documents with state secrets.

Park was accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group, the country's largest conglomerate, for government favours.

The scandal has also led to the heir-apparent of the technology giant Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, being formally indicted on multiple charges including bribery and embezzlement. Chief Justice Lee began by refuting the accusation that the trial hadn't been fair, citing precedent and saying that legally there was nothing wrong with the way the impeachment motion had been passed by parliament.

He and Samsung have denied wrongdoing.

Park was born in 1952 as the first child of Park Chung-hee. He was assassinated, as was her mother.

Hundreds of thousands of people have for months been gathering at peaceful rallies in Seoul every weekend to call for her to step down.

Carrying signs and candles, the crowd cheered to speeches and swayed to music Friday night, while angry supporters of Park continued to scuffle with police in streets near the court.

The celebrations turned ugly, however, as her supporters clashed with riot police and and a 72-year-old man was hurt and later died in hospital.

The circumstances of the second death were being investigated.

"We ask the court to declare victory for the people by firing the accused", he said at the same hearing.

Police blocked the main thoroughfare running through downtown Seoul in anticipation of bigger protests.

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