The decision led crowds to break out in elation (among anti-Park camps) and emotion (among Park supporters).
South Korea's Park Geun-hye was the country's first female president.
Pictured, the police clash with protesters and spray them to keep the crowds at bay. Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi read the unanimous ruling from the eight-member panel on national TV, saying Park committed "acts that violated the Constitution and laws" and that "betrayed the trust of the people and were of the kind that can not be tolerated for the sake of protecting the Constitution". "The benefits of protecting the constitution that can be earned by dismissing the defendant are overwhelmingly big. It's very clear that former president Park operated out of the boundaries of the Korean Constitution", said political scientist Kim Jae Chun from Sogang University.
An election must now be held within 60 days.
Following the verdict Park's spokesman said she would not leave the presidential Blue House residence today. One of Park's lawyers even told the court last month that there will be "a rebellion and blood will drench the asphalts" if Park is booted from office, but a criminal court later acquits her of her charges. Park has maintained her innocence throughout.
Park is accused of colluding with Choi to extract money from the firms and letting the friend handle a wide range of state affairs, including the nomination of cabinet members.
She was also accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group for government favors, including backing a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015. His trial began on Thursday.
Both women have denied wrongdoing.
Two people died during protests that followed the court ruling. As to what impact will the impeachment have on relations between Washington and Seoul, Goa said:"More recently the United States is very aggressive in terms of deploying the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea despite widespread opposition in South Korea".
Prosecutors have arrested and indicted a slew of high-profile figures over the scandal, including Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil, top Park administration officials and Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong.
Eight judges at the Constitutional Court have been reviewing the validity of the motion.
A productive relationship is expected to prevail for the remaining term of acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, and with whoever is elected as the next president, the US statement read. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib says the next step in this drama is U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Asia next week, where he will meet with China, Japan, and South Korea.
In 2004, South Korea's parliament impeached another president, Roh Moo-hyun, but the Constitutional Court later reinstated him.
Beijing has vigorously protested against the deployment, fearing its radar could see into its missile deployments. The court said that whether the president neglected her duties during the sinking has nothing to do with the impeachment.
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