A South Korean court on Friday sentenced the impeached President Park Geun-hye to 24 years in jail and fined her 18 billion won (17 million U.S. dollars) over a series of corruption counts.
Park, who was removed out of office in March last year over an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, was convicted of 16 corruption counts that include bribery, abuse of power and coercion.Prosecutors had charged Park with 18 counts, seeking a 30-year jail sentence with a fine of 118.5 billion won (111.4 million U.S. dollars).The Seoul Central District Court delivered a verdict of guilty, which was broadcast live nationwide. Park objected to the decision citing the violation of the innocence presumption, but the court said it allowed the live broadcasting for the trial’s significance, historical meaning and people’s right to know.
Park did not appear in the courtroom in protest against the live broadcasting. The ousted president has not shown up in any court hearing since October last year to protest against her extended detention for six more months.Three weeks after her impeachment last March, Park was taken into custody at a detention center outside of Seoul.The country’s first female leader, who was also the first president to be impeached while in office, is required to request a retrial within a week if she disagrees with the ruling.Choi, who was at the center of the corruption scandal, was sentenced in February to 20 years in prison.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the heir apparent and the only son to Chairman Lee Kun-hee, was set free by the appeals court in February with a sentence of two and a half years in prison suspended for four years.The court found guilty of Park’s collusion with Choi to abuse her presidential power and coerce local conglomerates, including Samsung and retail giant Lotte, to donate tens of millions of U.S. dollars to nonprofit foundations which the court said Choi actually controlled.Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was put under court custody in February with a sentence of two and a half years in jail for bribery.