SKorean ex-Prez Park gets 24-yr jail for graft

Clay Curtis
April 8, 2018

In December 2016, South Korean legislators overwhelmingly voted to impeach Park, but she refused to resign offering instead an apology while denying any legal wrongdoing.

She has boycotted her trial hearings and has previously accused the courts of being biased against her.

The nation's first female president arrived at Cheong Wa Dae in February 2013 promising to build a new Korea and drive out corruption. She didn't attend yesterday's verdict, citing a sickness that wasn't specified publicly.

North Korea has called disgraced former South Korean President Park Geun-hye a "traitor" responsible for "extra-large ugly corruption", in its first reaction to the sentencing of Park to 24 years in prison on corruption charges.

In a nationally televised verdict, the Seoul Central District Court convicted Park of bribery, extortion, abuse of power and other charges. "The President abused the power which was given to her by the citizens", the judge said, adding a tough sentence was needed to send a firm message to the country's future leaders.

Both Park and the prosecutors have one week to appeal.

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Park, the daughter of assassinated dictator Park Chung-hee, faced a total of 18 charges.

The court's sentencing is shorter than the 30-year prison term requested by prosecutors. Their relationship has been the subject of intense public scrutiny amid allegations that Choi had undue influence over a nation's affairs through her connection with Ms Park.

Hundreds of Park's supporters gathered near the southern Seoul court hours before the ruling, swinging South Korean and USA flags under signs and banners that read, among other things, "Immediately release innocent President Park Geun-hye" and "Stop murderous political revenge".

Park is the third former South Korean leader to stand trial for corruption.

Also implicated in the scandal was Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong.

The verdict was delivered without Park in attendance and broadcast live on TV despite her objections.

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