Ex-South Korean leader Park Geun-hye gets 24 years in prison

07 April, 2018, 00:45 | Author: Lynette Payne
  • JUST IN: Ex-president sentenced to 24 years in Jail

The conviction of Park Geun-hye, former president of South Korea, over a corruption scandal has elicited mixed reactions from people here in this Asia Pacific country.

In a damning verdict delivered Friday, three judges in the Seoul Central District Court found Park guilty on 16 of the 18 charges leveled against her, including bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets.

Park faces up to 30 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Jeon Du-hwan, who received the death penalty, and Roh Tae-woo, who got a 20-year jail term, spent only two years each in prison.

The court found Park guilty of colluding with her old friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive about 7 billion won ($6.56 million) each from Lotte Group, a retail giant, and Samsung, the world's biggest maker of smartphones and semiconductors, while demanding 8.9 billion won from SK, an energy conglomerate.

"Park abused the power given to her by the people of the country and conspired with Choi to demand bribes from companies and meddle in their business decisions", Kim said.

Park, the daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee, lost both her parents to assassins.

Her supporters, mostly elderly South Koreans, have insisted on her innocence, holding weekend marches in downtown Seoul and shouting for her release. She was indicted the following month.

Kang Chul-koo, one of Park's state-appointed lawyers, said he would discuss with her the possibility of an appeal.

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Park was expelled from the LKP in November a year ago after her impeachment and subsequent removal from office. "She has to take heavy responsibility to make sure a president of the country does not abuse his or her power again".

It is noteworthy that hye's predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, who ruled from 2008 to 2013, is also now in detention on allegations of multiple corruption charges but unlike Park, he finished his presidential term and was arrested in the wake of the latest scandal in March, 2018.

South Korea's presidential residence, the Blue House, issued a statement after the verdict calling it a "heartbreaking event for the nation".

Younger, liberal voters, who staged months of protests against Park before her ouster, will be hoping the verdict will mark a major step towards ending the self-serving collusion between political leaders and the chaebol conglomerates. She says she is a victim of politics.

She was charged and arrested soon after her dismissal from office.

Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the former military general who seized power in 1963 and served as South Korea's strongman president for nearly two decades.

Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, is also being investigated for corruption.

"South Koreans are my family", she once declared.

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