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10:32 22 July
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South Korean court throws president out of office; two die in protest


South Korea's Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country's conglomerates at a time of rising tensions with North Korea and China.

 

The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of Park's supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court, and a festive rally by those who had demanded her ouster who celebrated justice being served.

 

"We did it. We the citizens, the sovereign of this country, opened a new chapter in history," Lee Tae-ho, the leader of a movement to oust Park that has held mostly peaceful rallies in downtown involving millions, told a large gathering in Seoul.

 

Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, capping months of paralysis and turmoil over the corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in detention and on trial.

 

A snap presidential election will be held within 60 days.

 

Park did not appear in court, and a spokesman said she would not be making any comment. She also would not leave the presidential Blue House residence on Friday.

 

"Park is not leaving the Blue House today," Blue House spokesman Kim Dong Jo told Reuters.

 

Park was stripped of her powers after parliament voted to impeach her but has remained in the president's official compound.

 

The court's acting chief judge, Lee Jung-mi, said Park had violated the constitution and law "throughout her term," and despite the objections of parliament and the media, she had concealed the truth and cracked down on critics.

 

Park has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

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