By Alex Jensen
SEOUL (AA) - Suspended President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment trial should be concluded by March 13, outgoing Constitutional Court Chief Justice Park Han-chul said Wednesday.
Speaking at a hearing on last month’s parliamentary vote to oust the president amid a corruption scandal, the judge, who is due to retire on Jan. 31, said March would see the retirement of second member of the nine-judge panel, which could “distort the outcome of the decision”.
If the court supports her impeachment and Park becomes the first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, it would trigger a snap election within 60 days.
Justice Park warned that the role of each justice was hugely significant and reducing the bench to seven members could distort the court ruling.
A decision in March would give less campaign time for touted presidential candidate and ex-UN head Ban Ki-moon, who returned to South Korea earlier this month.
Park, 64, is still protected from prosecution as she remains in office although she has been stripped of power.
Also Wednesday, Park’s private confidante Choi Soon-sil, who the president is said to have colluded with to pressure businesses to donate to two foundations that supported her policies, was forced to appear before investigators in Seoul.
“They have been forcing me to confess that I colluded with President Park,” Choi shouted to reporters. The investigation’s spokesman denied the claim.