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Woman behind South Korea political scandal rejects order to testify

7 December 2016 13:21

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The woman at the center of a massive political scandal in South Korea has rejected an order to appear before a parliamentary committee to testify in the case.

Choi Soon-sil, who has been accused of using her relations with President Park Geun-hye to influence government affairs, refused to attend the parliamentary hearing scheduled for Wednesday, citing health issues.

The committee had sent a group of 20 security officers to order that Chio and ten other witnesses testify before the committee.

She can now be fined for non-compliance with the order.


Choi Soon-sil (masked) leaves after attending an investigation session at a court in Seoul on November 3, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The committee chairman, Kim Sung-tae, has said, “We will undertake all measures to make them appear,” referring to Choi and some of her close associates and family members. The panel can request a court order.

The parliamentary hearings opened amid a series of weekly mass demonstrations across the country, with protesters calling for the president’s resignation.

The president said last week that she would leave it to parliament to decide her fate in an impeachment vote on Friday. Park said she will respond “calmly” to the result of the impeachment process and would wait for the constitutional court’s verdict, a process that could take up to at least six months.


Lawmakers rally to demand the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye at the National Assembly in Seoul, December 7, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

If the impeached process succeeds, the president would be suspended but not immediately removed. Her prime minister would temporarily serve as acting president until the court reviews whether her impeachment is constitutionally sound.

If six of the court’s nine justices support the impeachment vote, Park would be removed permanently and a new presidential election would be held within 60 days.

But if the impeachment motion fails to pass by the required two-thirds majority in the 300-seat national assembly, she will remain in office until her term comes to an end in February 2018.

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