Impeachment trial against South Korean leader goes ahead without her

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By Seamus Kearney
Impeachment trial against South Korean leader goes ahead without her

The Constitutional Court in South Korea has pushed ahead with the start of an impeachment trial against the country’s president, despite her refusal to attend.

Park Geun-hye was absent from the first day of the trial on Tuesday and on Thursday the court decided to begin hearing legal arguments without her.

The president, whose powers have been suspended pending a ruling by the court, cannot be legally forced to attend the hearings.

Park is caught up in corruption allegations levelled against a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, who is facing a separate trial. The pair deny any criminal wrongdoing.

The chairman of parliament’s legislation and judiciary committee called on judges to remove Park from office, accusing her of violating the constitution and the law.

But defence lawyers hit back, saying there is a lack of evidence and legal basis for impeachment.

After the vote against Park in parliament on December 9, the Constitutional Court has until early June to decide whether to remove her from office or reinstate her powers.

Meanwhile, authorities in Seoul are preparing an extradition request against the daughter of Choi Soon-sil.

Chung Yoo-ra has been arrested in Denmark and can be held for up to four weeks pending a formal extradition process.

Authorities say Chung is being held over allegations of committing “economic crimes” back home.

The 20-year-old is reported to have appealed to a higher court against her detention.