Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

South Korea's Park jailed for 24 years

South Korea's Park jailed for 24 years

Park Geun-hye was sentenced by Seoul Central District Court after being convicted of 16 charges including bribery, abuse of power and extortion.

A trial which lasted more than 10 months and highlighted shady links between big business and politics in South Korea ended with Park being found guilty on multiple criminal charges, including bribery and abuse of power.

Park has been held at a detention center near Seoul since her arrest in March 2017, but she refused to attend Friday's court session, citing sickness.

"Despite all these crimes, the accused denied all the charges against her, displayed no remorse and showed an incomprehensible attitude by blaming Choi and other. officials", Kim said, referring to Park's secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil. The ousted president has not shown up in any court hearing since October past year to protest against her extended detention for six more months. There is some residual sympathy for Park among her core supporters, who have always seen her as a heroically tragic figure who devoted her life to the service of her country despite childhood tragedy.

The sentence will be a bitter blow for Park, who returned to the presidential palace in 2012 as the country's first woman leader, more than three decades after she left it following the assassination of her father.

Park apologised at her trial for seeking help from Choi, who had no policy or political experience, but that was as close as Park came to admitting any guilt.

She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the former dictator who ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979. The harshness of the sentence is likely to deepen divisions in a country still wrestling with the aftermath of the most serious political turmoil in years.

Park was not in court for the nationally televised verdict but can still appeal. She was tried separately and sentenced in February to 20 years in prison.

Park Geun Hye's lawyer has stated that he will be speaking to Park Geun Hye about filing an appeal, and will announce the decision later on. Park denied all the charges against her.

"The case put the relationship between the government and South Korea's largest family-owned conglomerates, known as 'chaebols, ' under the microscope, and brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets of Seoul demanding Park's ouster, as a tide of popular anger against the perceived unfair influence of the chaebols swept the country", Forbes noted on Friday. They waved South Korean and USA flags and held signs that read, among other things, "Stop murderous political revenge!" Kim's wife also received a prison term for bribing one of Park's top aides in return for business favours.

Media reports say that Choi's father was a cult leader and allegedly used his ties with Park to take bribes from government officials and businessmen.

Park's four years in office were marred by rising animosity with rival North Korea over its advancing nuclear program, a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people, mostly teenagers on a school trip, and criticism that she curbed free speech and didn't manage things transparently.

In a presidential by-election triggered by Park's early exit, Moon won an easy victory against wounded conservatives.

Two others, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were convicted for treason and corruption in the 1990s. Lee's liberal successor Roh Moo-hyun jumped to his death in 2009 amid a corruption investigation of his family.

Park's successor described the sentencing as a "heartbreaking event" for both the nation and the ex-leader herself.

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