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First trial of impeached S. Korean President ends

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Seoul:  The first trial on a parliamentary motion to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hye ended on Tuesday with Park, the principal of the trial, not in attendance.

The first hearing was wrapped up just in nine minutes as Park refused to appear in the constitutional court, Xinhua news agency reported.

The second date for pleading was set for Thursday and the third was scheduled for next Tuesday.

By law, the court is allowed to continue the legal proceedings if the principal refuses to appear.

Four former presidential secretaries will appear as witnesses on Thursday, while two senior presidential advisors as well as Choi Soon-sil, Park’s longtime confidante at the centre of the influence-peddling scandal, will be summoned in the third trial.

Attending the first trial were nine justices on the bench, three lawmakers of the National Assembly’s impeachment committee and nine defence counsels for Park.

The three lawmakers assisted by 11 counsels have played prosecutors’ role as the impeachment bill is on trial in the court, not in a court of law.

Park was impeached in the unicameral assembly on December 9. The court has up to 180 days to deliberate, but the judges are widely forecast to rule as early as late February to shorten the period of power vacuum.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn temporarily assumed presidential power, acting as a caretaker President.

IANS

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