Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Industry | By Johnnie Johnson

Former South Korean president sentenced to 24 years in prison

Former South Korean president sentenced to 24 years in prison

A supporter of ousted former President Park Geun-hye waits on the street in front of the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, 06 April 2018.

Park, who was also fined 18bn won (£12m, $17m), faced a string of corruption charges. According to prosecutors charges, she had taken a bribe of at least euro 25m from companies like Samsung and the retail company Lotte.

A South Korean judge said Friday that ex-President Park Geun-hye is guilty of abuse of power and coercion.

Businessmen Shin Dong-bin, chairman of conglomerate Lotte, and Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Group, were also implicated in the scandal and were both charged with bribery.

As the trial concluded, Park's supporters demonstrated in Seoul to demand her release. She was found guilty of abusing her power as president to pressure former senior official of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Roh Tae-kang, to step down, after he pointed out problems concerning special treatment given to Choi's daughter. Park can appeal to a higher court. Choi had no official title and no security clearance, but saw Park much more frequently than the president's own staff. The court said she leaked at least 14 state secrets to Choi. "Park has denied all charges against her and expressed no remorse or atonement - legally as well as politically - for what's probably the most shocking political scandal in our modern history", Jeong told AFP.

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In a presidential by-election triggered by Park's early exit, Moon won an easy victory against wounded conservatives. "She is the one most responsible for it".

Judge Kim Se-yoon said Park had shown "no sign of repentance", and had instead pinned the blame on Choi.

"The rule of law in this country is dead today", said Han Geun-hyung, a 27-year-old Park supporter. "However, considering that the entire population of South Korea is affected by her crime, this seemingly heavy sentence is actually reasonable".

South Korea's first female leader, also became its first president to be impeached when she was ejected from office a year ago, then swiftly arrested for corruption, reported the Washington Post. She was sentenced to 24 years in prison, though prosecutors initially requested 30 years.

Park, 66, was sentenced to 24 years in jail and fined 18 billion won (AU$22 million).

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The heads of conglomerates involved in the scandal have also been jailed.

Choi was convicted and sentenced on Feb 13 to 20 years in jail.

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.

Park did not appear in the courtroom in protest against the live broadcasting. Police said around 4,000 people gathered in the vicinity.

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