South Korea’s former president and first woman leader Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison for abuse of power, corruption and bribery, following a trial that has lasted more than 10 months.
The court ruled that Park Geun-hye, 66, conspired with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to coerce firms such as Samsung and Lotte, among others, to provide or promise 23 billion won (Rs 139 crore) in bribes, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
“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,” Judge Kim Se-yun said in a rare televised trial. “The responsibility lies with the defendant who has abandoned her constitutional duties.”
Park Guen-hye has boycotted most of the trial in protest against being held in custody. She was not in court for Friday’s judgment. The daughter of assassinated dictator Park Chung-hee, Park Guen-hye took office in 2013 as a conservative leader and projected herself as the daughter of the nation, AFP reported.
She is the nation’s first elected head of state to be ousted, and the third former leader to be convicted of corruption. In February, the court sentenced Choi to 20 years in prison. Choi has appealed the ruling.
The case against Park
Park Geun-hye was impeached in December 2016, after the corruption scandal came to light. She was removed from office by the Constitutional Court in March 2017 and was arrested the same month.
In April that year, South Korean prosecutors formally charged Park and Shin Dong-bin, the chief of one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, Lotte, with bribery. The charges against the former president include bribery, coercion, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.
Park Geun-hye was accused of colluding with her long-time friend and confidante Choi Soon-sil to extort money in the form of donations from South Korean companies. The money, which was transferred to non-profit foundations controlled by Soon-sil, was allegedly used for personal gains.
During the trial, prosecutors demanded a 30-year prison sentence.