06 January, 2017
Oral arguments in the hearing to decide whether a recent parliamentary vote to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be overturned began in Seoul's Constitutional Court on Thursday - and included a religious reference.
While the lawmakers, functioning as prosecutors in the trial, argued Ms Park should be removed from the presidency, her lawyers said there is no evidence to back the corruption allegations that threaten to force her from office.
Her lawyer denied that she had pressured Samsung to make sizable donations to foundations run by Choi in return for her support of a merger between two of the electronics giant's affiliates.
The hearing followed two preparatory hearings held in December, where Choi, a close friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, was charged with abuse of power and attempted fraud, Efe news reported.
Constitutional Court Chief Justice Park Han-chul reviews impeachment motion documents at the second hearing of the trial on Thursday.
Lawyer Lee Joong-hwan, another member of Park's legal delegation, pleaded her innocence of all accusations, particularly bribery and the undue power she allegedly allowed Choi in state affairs.
"The court is requested to fire the president so that impaired constitutional order can be restored", said Kwon Seong-Dong, a lawmaker for the prosecution.
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The hearing proceeded without Ms Park, who refused to give evidence for the second time and can not be forced to do so.
The prosecution, representing the parliament, accused Park of "broadly and gravely" violating the constitution and betraying the trust of the Korean people. "We will do our best in the trial to be strict and impartial with an attitude of justice and rectitude", Court President Park said.
Park was impeached by parliament late a year ago, a decision that must be upheld or rejected by the Constitutional Court.
The court is scheduled to hear from four key witnesses later in the day, but their attendance remains unclear. For their part, Park supporters have staged rallies in solidarity with the much-maligned president. During the hearing on January 5, former Blue House secretaries Ahn Bong-geun and Lee Jae-man and former Blue House administrative staff Yun Jeon-chu and Lee Yeong-seon are scheduled to testify. She was a no-show at her impeachment hearing which officially opened on Tuesday.
The president, whose powers have been suspended pending a ruling by the court, can not be legally forced to attend the hearings.
On the morning of the Sewol's sinking, Yun said she was working with Park in her residence inside the Blue House compound. They are saying it was a small mistake that was not grave enough to lose Park her office.
He said she had to be kicked out of the presidency to fix the damage she had caused to the country's democracy.