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Court warns against delays in Park’s trial

Seoul, Jan 10 (IANS)
Published on 10 Jan. 2017 10:08 PM IST
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South Korea’s constitutional court, which is deliberating a motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye, on Tuesday warned against a possible delay of trial on the impeachment bill.
The court said future proceedings must not be postponed for the reason of time shortage in preparations, and urged both the defendant and plaintiff sides to bear that in mind. It asked both sides to speed up the legal proceedings and offered to the court the details on the impeached leader’s whereabouts on the day of the ferry-sinking disaster. 
The court has up to 180 days to deliberate, but it has been speeding up the deliberations by holding trials twice a week to minimise the power vacuum. A presidential election must be held in 60 days if the court upholds the impeachment bill.
Park’s legal team has been under fire for the suspected delay of legal proceedings. Her lawyers have demanded a criminal trial on all counts of five constitutional and eight criminal charges against the President.
Proving all the charges will take much longer time than the ruling, which allows Park to be fired on disciplinary grounds if she violated any of the 13 counts.
Key witnesses also refrained from attending the trial. Park’s longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is at the centre of the presidential scandal, and two former presidential secretaries refused or delayed the court’s summoning.
The head of the parliamentary judiciary committee, which serves as prosecutors in the constitutional trial, raised suspicion that Park’s legal team may be intentionally postponing the proceedings by discouraging witnesses from attending the hearing.

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