Former South Korean President Bags 24 Years In Prison For Corruption

07 April, 2018, 00:47 | Author: Elena Summers
  • Park is expected to learn her fate at the detention centre near Seoul where she has been in custody for almost a year

Park is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, a dictator who ruled the nation for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. The harshness of the sentence is likely to deepen divisions in a country still wrestling with the aftermath of the most serious political turmoil in years. She has been in prison for more than a year, but has refused to appear in court for most of her hearings. She did not attend Friday's session, which was televised live.

The Seoul Central District Court issued the verdict on Friday after convicting Park of bribery, abuse of power, extortion and other charges.

The judge said Park had shown "no sign of repentance" but had instead tried to shift the blame to Choi and her secretaries.

In February, Choi was sentenced to 20 years in jail on 18 charges including abuse of power, coercion, fraud and bribe, and fined $16.6 million. In addition to prison time, the court fined Park 16.8 million dollars.

Park, 66, who the became the country's first female head of state in 2013, was convicted of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion.

The scandal has already led to the arrests, indictments and convictions of dozens of high-profile government officials and business leaders.

He maintained that he was not involved in the payment decisions and denied seeking any government favours, and was later freed in February after a court reduced and suspended his sentence. There were no immediate reports of major clashes or injuries. Once seen as the darling of South Korean conservatives, she was dubbed "Queen of Elections" by local media for her track record of leading her party to victory in tight races and still has a small group of fierce supporters who regularly stage rallies calling for her release.

The wide-ranging corruption scandal exposed shady links between big business and politics in South Korea, prompting massive street protests against Park past year.

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The corruption scandal triggered months of mass protests and political turmoil in South Korea.

She exploited her position not just for financial gain, but also to build the equestrian career of her daughter, who was admitted to Ewha and selected to represent South Korea in the 2014 Asian Games. But he's also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents. That feeling has only grown with the arrest of Park's predecessor on unrelated corruption charges. A presidential election in May saw the victory of liberal Moon Jae-in, whose administration has overseen a thawing of relations between South and North Korea.

Choi's father Choi Tae Min was described by a USA diplomat as a Korean Rasputin who had "complete control over Park's body and soul".

But the court said most of Samsung's payments did not constitute bribes.

Park apologized while in office for seeking help from Choi, who had no policy or political experience, but that was as close as she came to admitting any guilt.

President Moon Jae-in came to office past year on a drive to wipe out what he calls "deep-rooted evil" across society.

Park's successor described the sentencing as a "heartbreaking event" for both the nation and the ex-leader herself.

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