Two dead in rallies against Park impeachment

Two dead in rallies against Park impeachment

A South Korean court took the unprecedented step of removing its country's president from office after months of turmoil over Park Geun-hye's impeachment scandal.

The image has been broken apart since the corruption scandal embroiling Park and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil emerged in October previous year.

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.

Park was elected in 2012 and her downfall was swift after revelations last fall that a longtime confidant with no government title, Choi Soon-sil, gained access to sensitive government documents, including the president's speeches.

Park did not appear at today's hearing and has refused to give evidence to investigators.

The announcement will be made at 11 a.m. and broadcast live from the main courtroom, court spokesman Bae Bo-yoon said Wednesday.

Since the closing arguments made on February 27, the court has held closed-door deliberation sessions to look into the 13 charges levelled against Park by the parliament and whether her alleged violations of law and the Constitution were serious enough to warrant her permanent removal. Park loses her presidential immunity and can be summoned, questioned and even arrested by authorities. Liberal leader Moon Jae-in, who had gone up against Park in the 2012 elections, is now considered the frontrunner for the post.

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"We remove Park Geun-hye from office", Lee Jung-mi, acting president of the court, has announced.

Independent counsel Park Young-soo concluded last week a 90-day probe into corruption and abuse of power allegations against Park, her associates and major Korean companies.

9 Dec, 2016: Parliament votes to impeach Ms Park.

Meanwhile, Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit, said the court's decision "has pushed South Korea into near-term political uncertainty and the likely further escalation of economic risks facing South Korea". The country's prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, would remain, as he is now, the interim president.

Both Park and her friend denied the accusations.

Prosecutors had accused Park of being an accomplice in a case involving her close friend Choi Soon-sil, who was charged with forcing businesses into donating money to foundations under Park's control.