Monday, 19 November, 2018

Former South Korean president Park sentenced to 24 years in jail

Former South Korean president Park sentenced to 24 years in jail Former South Korean president Park sentenced to 24 years in jail
Oscar Goodwin | 07 April, 2018, 00:48

Former South Korean leader Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined nearly $17 million Friday, the culmination of a stunning fall from grace for the nation's first female president.

Park's supporters - mainly older conservative voters - have staged street demonstrations nearly every weekend to protest against her impeachment and imprisonment.

In a verdict broadcast live and streamed in cabs, offices and cake shops, the court ruled Park did pressure top business executives to donate millions of dollars to slush funds run by her friend and confidant, Choi Soon-sil in return for government favors.

It has also fuelled the rise of the liberal Moon Jae-in, Park's previous political opponent who eventually replaced her as president after campaigning on a platform of a clean government.

The judge said Park had shown "no sign of repentance" but had instead tried to shift the blame to Choi and her secretaries.

Prosecutors initially sought a 30-year sentence and a 118.5 billion won (112 million dollars) fine for Park, after indicting her on charges that included bribery, abuse of power and coercion. Park was also fined almost $17 million.

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

Former President Park Geun-hye arrives at the entrance of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office to undergo prosecution questioning on March 21, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. Ten days later, she is arrested.

Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee was jailed for a similar term on charges of bribery and embezzlement but in a surprise decision in February, an appeals court freed him after a year in detention.

On Friday, the verdict was greeted with public displays of outrage and grief by several hundred Park supporters who had gathered outside the courthouse.

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

Choi, the daughter of a South Korean cult leader, was sentenced to 20 years in jail on 18 charges in February.

But she is not the only former president to have been arrested for corruption.

Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, is also being investigated for corruption. Park Geun-hye's first reaction to her father's death is reportedly to check on the security status at the border with North Korea, comments that inspire supporters to say she deserves a national leadership role.

South Korean presidents have an inglorious record when it comes to corruption and prison time.

The scandal "exposed what has always been widely suspected in South Korea: the entangled web of government and sprawling business conglomerates that dominate the country's economy", say The Guardian.

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