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(LEAD) Ousted leader Park gets 24 years in prison for corruption

2018/04/06 17:02

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SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- 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 massive corruption scandal that toppled her from power 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 years in jail and 118.5 billion won in fines. She was arrested in late March of 2017 and faced 18 charges.

Former President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap) Former President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap)

The court ruled Park conspired with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil into coercing Samsung, Lotte and SK groups to provide or promise a total of 23 billion won in bribes.

"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 the televised trial.

"The responsibility lies with the defendant who has abandoned her constitutional duties."

   South Korea's first female president, who took office in early 2013, became the nation's first elected head of state to be ousted and now the third former leader to be convicted of corruption.

The court counted 7.3 billion won as bribes she took from Samsung. It also acknowledged 7 billion won as kickbacks provided by retail giant Lotte to Choi's nonprofit foundation.

The court found Park guilty of forcing SK to fund 8.9 billion won for one of Choi's firms, though it was never paid.

Park was also convicted of the charges related to the her government's creation and management of an artist blacklist deemed critical of her government. Those on the list were denied state subsidies.

Her friend Choi was sentenced to 20 years in February. She has appealed the ruling.

This photo, taken from a long shot in central Gwanghwamun, captures the moment in a live televised corruption trial of former President Park Geun-hye on April 6, 2018, that the judge metes out a 24-year prison sentence for the disgraced leader. (Yonhap) This photo, taken from a long shot in central Gwanghwamun, captures the moment in a live televised corruption trial of former President Park Geun-hye on April 6, 2018, that the judge metes out a 24-year prison sentence for the disgraced leader. (Yonhap)

The scandal led to a parliamentary impeachment of Park in December 2016. She was formally removed from office by the Constitutional Court on March 10 the following year. She was arrested later that month and has been on trial since May.

Park did not appear in Friday's sentencing trial. She has been boycotting the hearing in protest of the court's October decision to extend her incarceration six months.

She was said to have remained in her cell on Friday in the Seoul Detention Center, south of Seoul.

Police bolstered security around the court, dispatching 3,300 officers. Outside the courthouse , Park's supporters staged a rally calling for her release. They picketed and hung banners printed with her face, claiming her innocence and protesting what they call a politically motivated investigation.

Supporters of former President Park Geun-hye wave the national flag in front of the Seoul Central District Court, before Park's sentencing trial, held in the afternoon of April 6, 2018. (Yonhap) Supporters of former President Park Geun-hye wave the national flag in front of the Seoul Central District Court, before Park's sentencing trial, held in the afternoon of April 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr

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