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Fairness and transparency are key

Feb 16,2017
The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the legitimacy of impeachment against President Park Geun-hye has accepted 29 taped files and transcripts of conversations held by Ko Young-tae, a former business partner of Choi Soon-sil now on trial for power abuse and other criminal charges. The files expose private conversations between Ko and his friends and associates.

Ko claims that the charges are false accusations, while Park’s lawyers want to use them to portray Ko as the culprit of the power abuse scandal. “If we set the stage, and it blows over (through the scandal), all this (K-Sports Foundation) would be ours,” Ko says in the conversation. “Choi is the only person the VIP (president) trusts.” His comments could be interpreted differently according to perspective.

The conversations also include sensitive issues suggesting Choi’s involvement in appointments in the national customs office and the creation of foundations. The evidence could affect next week’s final vocal and written defenses from the president’s side. It could also influence the timing of the bench ruling. The judgment of the highest court must be based on transparency and fairness.

There are signs that the court decision could be challenged either way it rules to endorse or disapprove the presidential impeachment.

The rallies supporting and condemning the president are deepening the national divide. Fake news is rampant and the mood has gotten violent with protesters using military terms. It is a relief that the floor-leaders of four political parties agreed to fully cooperate with the rulings regardless of the outcome.

The Constitutionals Court should be given time to study the files and decide on the validity of the evidence. It however should not drag its feet over the dispute over calling the president to deliver her final defense. To fend off rumors and slander, the court should think about going public with the trial process to ensure transparency.