SEOUL (AA) - South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Friday upheld a parliamentary motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye, 92 days after lawmakers voted to oust her on power abuse charges.
Park becomes the country’s first democratically elected leader to be expelled from office. A snap election will be held within 60 days.
The court’s eight-member panel reached the unanimous verdict, according to acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi, who described the “very historic moment” in a statement broadcast live on television. At least six justices were required to uphold the impeachment.
Park was caught up in a wide-ranging scandal last October, with millions of demonstrators taking part in candlelight protests demanding her resignation.
Thirty suspects, including Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, were indicted by special prosecutors last month on charges linked to the presidential office’s alleged involvement in bribes, the release of confidential documents and the creation of a cultural blacklist.
Until now, Park has been protected by her position, but it is expected she will now no longer be able to avoid direct interrogation.
Conservative supporters of the ousted president have intensified counter-rallies, however, and nearly 22,000 police officers were deployed Friday to guard government institutions. including the Constitutional Court and the presidential office.