Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

Former South Korean president sentenced to 24 years in prison

Former South Korean president sentenced to 24 years in prison

A South Korean court has sentenced former President Park Geun-hye to 24 years in prison for corruption.

She was ousted from office in December 2016 when she was impeached by the National Assembly.

Park was convicted of collecting or demanding a total of almost $22 million in bribes from three of South Korea's top business conglomerates, including Samsung, Lotte and SK.

The court found Park guilty of forcing SK to fund 8.9 billion won for one of Choi's firms, though it was never paid.

Prosecutors sought a 30-year sentence and a 118.5 billion won ($112 million) fine for Park, after indicting her on charges that included bribery, abuse of power and coercion.

In February, Choi was sentenced to 20 years in prison and also fined $17 million for her role in the scheme.

Numerous supporters of the embattled former president gathered at different locations to watch as the judge passed judgment.

Following the nation-wide protests previous year, a vote by the National Assembly and a unanimous decision by the Constitutional Court lead to Park's impeachment over helping Choi.

"The defendant abused the presidential authority delegated from the people of this country and it resulted in a large amount of chaos in terms of public order and state management", said Judge Kim Se-yun in translated comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.

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The daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee - assassinated in 1979 - Park held office from 2013 until March 2017, when she was stripped of her powers after the country's Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach her. Ten days later, she is arrested.

The scandal surrounding Park and her closest confidante would ultimately ensnare several of South Korea's top officials and business leaders in a web of bribery and graft.

Some of Park's supporters rallied near the Seoul Central District Court Friday morning, holding signs that read "Park is not guilty" or "A trial that murders".

Moon's office said Park's fate was "heartbreaking" not only for herself but for the country, and added that history that was not remembered would be repeated.

But she is not the only former president to have been arrested for corruption.

Park's sentencing has drawn a line under what has been one of the biggest corruption scandals to rock South Korea in recent years. Lee's liberal successor Roh Moo-hyun jumped to his death in 2009 amid a corruption investigation of his family.

Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, who held the presidential office from 2008 to 2013, is also now in detention as he is suspected of multiple corruption charges.

Park and Lee are not the only South Korean leaders to have been sent to prison. "The verdict was anticipated, but it has shortcomings", said Park Jun-woo, lawyer and vice secretary-general of Lawyers for a Democratic Society (Minbyun).

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