Former South Korean leader Park jailed for 24 years over corruption

Charlene Craig
April 6, 2018

Choi is serving a 20-year prison term; Samsung executive Lee Jae-yong was initially sentenced to five years in prison before his sentence was suspended on appeal; and Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin was given two-and-a-half years in prison.

Park, 66, became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office a year ago after a scandal that landed the heads of two companies in prison.

Prosecutors had asked for Park to receive a 30-year sentence.

Park is not the first leader of South Korea to face criminal charges. Park has maintained her innocence, saying she's a victim of "political revenge". She did not appear in court for the hearing and was broadcasted nationwide in South Korea today.

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.

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According to prosecutors charges, she had taken a bribe of at least euro 25m from companies like Samsung and the retail company Lotte.

Park's conviction also included creating a blacklist of liberal cultural figures deemed to be critical of her conservative government, and implementing measures to discriminate against them. She was arrested in late March of 2017 and faced 18 charges.

Outside the courthouse, Park's supporters staged a rally calling for her release.

The court found Park guilty of abusing her presidential power and colluding with her longtime confidante Choi to force conglomerates to provide financial support and illicit business contracts to the Mir and K-Sports foundations allegedly run by Choi, and affiliated organizations.

But for the vast majority of Koreans, she has now been permanently disowned, and will go down in history not as the countrys first woman president but the first democratically-elected leader to be forced from office.

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

Park is the daughter of late dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea from 1961 until his assassination in 1979.

In March 2017, the constitutional court upheld the assembly's decision, making Park the first South Korean leader to be removed from office through parliamentary impeachment.

Park was impeached in late 2016 and then officially removed from office past year.

"Release (President Park) immediately!" the marchers chanted as they walked between thick lines of police officers. "We will not forget today".

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The final scandal touched off months of Saturday rallies, during which millions gathered at a Seoul plaza and elsewhere around the country calling for her ouster.

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