Ousted leader Park gets 24 years in prison for corruption

SEOUL, Former President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined 18 billion won (US$16.8 million) on Friday in a ruling on a massive corruption case that led to her removal from office early last year.

The Seoul Central District Court found the 66-year-old former leader guilty on 16 charges involving bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking state secrets.

Prosecutors had demanded a 30-year jail sentence and 118.5 billion won in fines on a total of 18 charges. She was arrested in March 2017.

Park took office in early 2013 as South Korea's first female president. She became the nation's first elected head of state to be ousted by the Constitutional Court in March 2017 and now the third former leader to be convicted of corruption.

The court ruled Park conspired with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil in coercing large businesses into providing or promising a total of 23 billion won in bribes. Choi was sentenced to 20 years in a separate trial in February.

"The defendant abused the presidential authority delegated from the people and as a result brought huge disruption to the order of state affairs, and it led to the unprecedented presidential impeachment," Judge Kim Se-yun said in the televised trial.

But she did not repent of her wrongdoing and continued to transfer the responsibility to others around her, he added.

She should be severely punished to prevent such an unfortunate event from recurring in the nation, the judge said.

The court ruled that Park and Choi extorted 7.3 billion won from Samsung Group. Park was found to have pressured Lotte and SK groups to donate 7 billion won and 8.9 billion won, respectively, to Choi's nonprofit foundation in exchange for business favors. SK did not provide the money.

Park also influenced other large companies to award contacts to companies run by Choi or her acquaintances, the judge said.

She was also convicted of abuse of power in connection with her aides' blacklisting of artists deemed critical of her government. Those on the list were denied state support.

The court found her responsible for the dismissal and demotion of officials who defied the orders to disadvantage the artists.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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