Former South Korean President Park found guilty

07 April, 2018, 00:49 | Author: Sergio Cook
  • JUST IN: Ex-president sentenced to 24 years in Jail

Park became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office previous year when the Constitutional Court ordered her out over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail.

The court noted that Park Geun Hye has denied the charges made against her and does not appear to be reflecting on her actions, and instead has passed the blame to others. After sending tanks and soldiers into Seoul, he elected himself president of South Korea. The first female South Korean president was boycotting the hearing in protest of the court's October decision to extend her incarceration by six months, Yonhap reports.

Her guilty verdict is expected to drive calls for constitutional reform to limit South Korea's presidential powers, as fellow former leader Lee Myung-bak is now under investigation over a separate scandal.

Prosecutors sought a 30-year sentence and a 118.5 billion won ($112 million) fine for Park, after indicting her on charges that included bribery, abuse of power and coercion. "The responsibility lies with the defendant who has abandoned her constitutional duties", Judge Kim Se-yun told the court.

The fact that she never married or had children was part of her appeal, given the nepotistic tendencies of many senior officials. In addition to prison time, the court fined Park 16.8 million dollars.

She was also convicted of forcing companies to sign lucrative deals with firms owned by Choi and donate gifts to Choi and her daughter.

Businessmen Shin Dong-bin, chairman of conglomerate Lotte, and Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Group, were also implicated in the scandal and were both charged with bribery.

Numerous charges stemmed from Park's association with her longtime friend and adviser Choi Soon-sil, who was sentenced to 20 years for corruption and influence peddling in February.

Experts said the harsh sentence was justified.

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 will appeal the sentence.

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After the sentencing, South Korea's presidential Blue House issued a poetic statement. "This is a heartbreaking incident for one person's life as well as for the country as a whole".

Park has maintained her innocence. And, unlike the rest of the country, she would not have been able to watch the sentencing on TV in her 108-square-foot cell because she's only allowed to view pre-recorded programs.

She's been in prison since the spring of 2017 and did not show up to hear her sentence being read aloud. She has been refusing to meet with anyone except her lawyers.

Park's friendships with Choi, 61, began in the mid-1970s when Choi's late father served as Park's mentor after her mother's assassination. At the age of 22, she effectively became first lady.

A Seoul TV station had also obtained Choi's tablet computer containing many confidential presidential documents, including drafts of Park's speeches.

The most deeply involved was Samsung, South Korea's largest conglomerate.

"They have to boost transparency and sever the ties of collusion with government".

While this scandal has been roiling South Korea, another former president has found himself in hot water.

Chun Sang-chin, sociology professor at Seoul's Sogang University, said the verdict could also spell bad news for Park's immediate predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who is in custody as prosecutors investigate multiple corruption charges involving him and his relatives. The 76-year-old, who was president from 2008 to 2013 and made his name as chief executive of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, is now being held in a separate jail from Park.

"It's an act of arrogance for Park not to be present in a series of trials, which is clearly an act to disregard the people of the Republic of Korea". The president's conservative rivals claim he's motivated by political revenge.

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