South Korean president Park Geun-hye has been accused of "broadly and gravely" violating the constitution as her impeachment trial got under way. The court will first hear the arguments set forth by the National Assembly's impeachment committee, the plaintiff in this historic case.
The investigators want to bring home Choi's daughter, Yoora Chung, who was arrested in Denmark on an worldwide warrant, as they look into the suspicions that Samsung sponsored Choi in exchange for government favors.
The South Korean parliament made a decision to impeach the president on December 9 after it transpired that Choi, a close friend of Park who does not hold any official posts in the government or the president's administration, edited the president's speeches and possibly used her ties to Park for her own financial benefit.
He said the accusations were not verified facts, because they were largely based on indictments by the prosecution and media reports.
Lee Joong-hwan, Park's lawyer, said she does not plan to appear Thursday and will probably not testify during the impeachment trial.
By not cooperating, Park and her defense team may be trying to delay the proceedings to take advantage of impending term limits for two justices that could deadlock the court. Present at the court on January 3 were ten representatives from the National Assembly (including lawmaker Kwon Seong-dong, Park Ju-min and Lee Chun-seok, lawmakers with the Minjoo Party; Son Geum-ju, a lawmaker with the Justice Party, members of the National Assembly's impeachment and prosecution committee; and Hwang Jeong-geun, an attorney) and nine attorneys representing Park (including Lee Joong-hwan).
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The court's first hearing was postponed on Tuesday after Ms Park failed to appear. "President Park didn't know that Choi was effectively in control of the foundations".
The trial in the Constitutional Court must decide within six months of her December 9 impeachment whether Park should permanently step down or should be reinstated to office. For their part, Park supporters have staged rallies in solidarity with the much-maligned president.
Park is immune from criminal charges while she remains in office. The court summoned An Bong-geun and Lee Jae-man, former presidential secretaries, and two staffers, Lee Yeong-seon and Yun Jeon-chu. Yun, a former health trainer hired to support Park's personal affairs, appeared and gave testimony.
On the morning of the Sewol's sinking, Yun said she was working with Park in her residence inside the Blue House compound.
He said she had to be kicked out of the presidency to fix the damage she had caused to the country's democracy.