South Korea's highest court ruled friday that seven civilians accused in the assasination of president Park Chung Hee can be tried by military courts, clearing the way for the reopening of their trial.
A four-member panel of the Supreme Court turned down a motion filed by defense lawyers that Kim Jae Kyu, former chief of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, and six other KCIA defendants be turned over to civilian court jurisdiction.
The defense filed its motions Tuesday when a military court began hearing the case against the men charged with gunning down Park and five of his bodyguards Oct. 26 in Seoul. The motion led the court to suspend hearings indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the electoral college overwhelmingly elected Prime Minister Choi Kyu Hah to succeed Park as president Yesterday amid opposition demands that he transfer power soon to a popularly elected president.
Choi, 60, who had been acting president, was the only candidate to complete the term of the late president Park Chung Hee, who was assassinated Oct. 26. The term has five more years to run, but Choi has said he does not plan to hold office that long.
Kim Jong Pil, who succeeded Park as head of the Democratic Republican Party and is considered a future presidential candidate, predicted Wednesday that Choi would serve about two years.
Choi has pledged to replace the 1972 constitution that Park put into effect to perpetuate his dictatorship and then hold a presidential election by popular vote.