First trial for impeached S.Korean president ends in 9 minutes in non-attendance

The first trial on a parliamentary motion to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hye ended just in nine minutes on Tuesday with Park, the principal of the trial, not in attendance.

The first hearing, which kicked off at 2:00 p.m. local time (0500 GMT), was wrapped up at 2:09 p.m. as President Park refused to appear in the constitutional court, according to local media reports.

The second date for pleading was set on Thursday and the third was scheduled for next Tuesday.

By law, the court is allowed to continue the legal proceedings in the next hearing if the principal refuses to appear.

Four former presidential secretaries will appear as witnesses on Thursday, while two senior presidential advisors as well as Choi Soon-sil, President Park's longtime confidante at the center of the influence-peddling scandal, will be summoned in next week's third trial.

Attending the first trial were nine justices on the bench, three lawmakers of the National Assembly's impeachment committee and nine defense counsels for Park.

The three lawmakers, assisted by 11 counsels, have played prosecutors' role as the impeachment bill is on trial in the constitutional court, not in a court of law.

Park was impeached in the unicameral assembly on December 9. The court has up to 180 days to deliberate, but the judges are widely forecast to rule as early as late February to shorten the period of power vacuum.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn temporarily assumed presidential power, acting as a caretaker president.

Source: Philippines News Agency