The South Korea's Constitutional Court will start the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye on Thursday, 22 December, with initial views from both sides, an official said on Tuesday.
The court will review the case of the scandal-hit president, who was impeached on 9 December after 234 lawmakers voted against her. Park is accused of allowing her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to access government documents without authorisation. The 64-year-old has denied any wrongdoing but apologised for carelessness in her ties with Choi.
A panel of nine jurors is entrusted with ruling on the vote to impeach Park, whose powers have been suspended for now. The opinion of at least six judges is needed to uphold the parliament motion to overthrow Park or overturn it and reinstate her, Reuters reported.
The nine-judge Constitutional Court has 180 days from the day of the impeachment vote to decide if Park will become the first democratically elected leader to step down from office in shame.
If the impeachment is upheld, a new election has to be held in 60 days to pick a new president.
On Friday, the country's parliamentary investigators were denied access to President Park's official residence known as the Blue House for search operations. The Blue House reiterated that the place could not be raided for national security reasons.
However, the spokesperson for the special prosecutor, Lee Kyu-Chul, said the team would continue to look for legal grounds that would allow them to enter the house.
Meanwhile, Park's lawyers submitted a legal opinion in the court stating that the impeachment had no legal basis and was also procedurally flawed and therefore should be thrown out.