S Korea's ex-president Park gets 24-year jail term for corruption
S Korea's ex-president Park gets 24-year jail term for corruption
Park is expected to learn her fate at the detention centre near Seoul where she has been in custody for almost a year
07 April, 2018, 00:47
Her father, Park Chung-hee, orchestrated a military coup in 1961 and ruled Korea as a dictator who brutally crushed dissidents and opposition. 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. Park lost her presidential immunity and was dismissed from her post when the constitutional court upheld a decision by parliament to impeach her.
The heads of conglomerates involved in the scandal have also been jailed.
Park has maintained her innocence.
The former leader previously denied any wrongdoing, and the sentence was announced in her absence. "Yet she has not showed much sign of remorse and kept blaming Choi and her aides", Kim said.
Prosecutors sought a 30-year sentence and a 118.5 billion won ($112 million) fine for Park.
Along with the prison sentence, Park was also fined $16.8 million, Kim said.
The trigger was a snowballing graft scandal involving Park and Choi and accusations of graft, influence-peddling and taking bribes from corporate bigwigs in exchange for policy favours.
The biggest charge was that she colluded with a longtime confidante to take tens of millions of dollars from companies in bribes and extortion.
Park did not appear in Friday's sentencing trial. They waved South Korean and US flags and held signs that read, among other things, "Stop murderous political revenge!"
"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". There were no immediate reports of major clashes or injuries.
Despite the corruption charges, there were almost 1000 supporters of Park who were eagerly waiting outside the courtroom to get their leader freed. But he's also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents.
Park's departure from the presidential palace in Seoul past year plunged her conservative Saenuri Party into turmoil.
But she is not the only former president to have been arrested for corruption. She says she is a victim of politics.
In 2012, she won the presidential election by defeating her liberal rival and current President Moon Jae-in, riding a wave of support by conservatives who wanted to see her repeat her father's charismatic economic revival.
Choi was convicted and jailed for 20 years after a separate trial in February. But her relations with the Choi family have long haunted her political career.
Moon's office described Park's fate as "heartbreaking" for the nation.
Weeks of massive anti-Park protests broke out after the media exposes, leading to Park's impeachment by parliament in December 2016.
Former conservative president Lee Myung-bak, Park's predecessor, was arrested last month on a raft of charges including bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion, abuse of power and breach of trust.
Chun's successor, Roh Tae-woo, was also convicted of treason, mutiny and corruption in 1996 and jailed for more than 22 years but served just over two years before being released.
Park and Lee are not the only South Korean leaders to have been sent to prison.
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