South Korea’s Constitutional Court has delayed the first hearing on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye after she refused to appear and testify in the trial over a corruption scandal.
The nine-justice court asked Park and her current and former aides to testify on January 5 after she refused to appear in court and delayed the start of oral arguments on Tuesday.
In a hastily arranged press conference at Seoul's presidential Blue House, President Park rejected accusations of corruption.
Her failure to appear in court sparked criticism from lawmakers, who serve as prosecutors in the trial. Lawmaker Kweon Seong Dong, the chief prosecutor in the trial, hit out at Park.
"It's not good etiquette to the justices and also inappropriate for the president, as the defendant of the impeachment trial, to say this and that to the media outside of court," Kweon told reporters.
Park's lawyer Lee Jung-hwan, however, said she will probably not testify in the case.
The Constitutional Court noted that it cannot compel Park to appear in the trial. The tribunal can proceed without her if she declines for a second time to appear.
South Korean lawmakers had voted by a large margin on December 9, 2016 to impeach Park over a major corruption scandal.
The first female president of the East Asian country has been accused of involvement in an influence-peddling case.
She allegedly colluded with long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil to pressure major corporations to contribute money to non-profit foundations that supported presidential initiatives. Park and Choi have denied any wrongdoing.
If impeachment is confirmed, presidential elections will be held in 60 days.