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South Korea’s Supreme Court upholds President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment

Park becomes South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye. AFP

SEOUL – South Korea’s Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on Friday, removing her from office over a graft scandal involving big business that has gripped the country for months.

Park becomes South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office. A presidential election will be held in 60 days, according to the constitution.

The corruption scandal erupted late last year over accusations that Park colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.

Park, 65, was impeached by parliament in December and she has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold the impeachment.

The daughter of a former military ruler, Park has denied wrongdoing, as has Choi.

The special prosecution team has indicted or arrested several members of the political and business elite linked to the corruption scandal, including Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee.

Should the court uphold parliament’s impeachment of Park, the country will hold an election within 60 days of that ruling.

The president’s office noted concerns that the special investigation probe could affect the outcome of any early presidential election.