S. Korea court to rule on President Park impeachment Friday

The court has had only eight justices since the departure of ex-Chief Justice Park Han-chul on January 31.

While both sides have remained largely peaceful so far, there are growing concerns about the impact of the court's decision, which will be broadcast live from 11 a.m. (0200GMT) Friday.

Park's lawyers say she was staying in her "residence cum office", receiving situation reports by phone and issuing directives on rescue operations.

If the impeachment is upheld, as many analysts predict, the decision would immediately end what has been Park's controversial four-year tenure leading South Korea - a country of 50 million and Asia's fourth-largest economy.

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Hwang, who is serving as acting president following Park's impeachment on Dec 9, emerged recently as the best hope among conservative voters because there is no outstanding rival coming from the conservative camp. She will have to vacate the presidential Blue House and perhaps return to her private residence in the upscale Gangnam district.

The announcement comes days before the South Korean Constitutional court will announce if it will uphold a motion put forth by parliament to impeach the embattled president.

The ruling would instantly strip Park of her powers and also her immunity against prosecution. The state of alert will go into effect on Thursday and last until Saturday.

Park has denied prosecutors' requests for interviews and a search of her presidential office.

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A number of former presidential aides and cabinet members have been arrested and charged with abuse of power or leaking secret state documents to Choi at Park's order.

The court restoring Park's powers would be a huge victory for tens of thousands of her conservative supporters who rallied passionately near the court in recent weeks. Who takes energy, intensity, and momentum from the decision into a political campaign? The National Assembly accuses Park of 13 offenses, and prosecutors turned over 20,000 pages of records from their investigation into the massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal.

"To truly unify public opinion, it is important that every bit of the truth comes to light", he said.

"In the minds of the Korean public, impeachment is nearly like a death penalty for any president, and that is sufficient", he added.

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