Former South Korean President Park Geun Hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Friday over her role in a high-profile corruption scandal that saw her ousted from office last year.
Prosecutors had demanded 30 years in prison and 118.5 billion won ($111 million) in penalties for 66-year-old Park on the grounds that she abused the power entrusted to her for private gain and violated constitutional values.
Park, South Korea’s first female president, became its first democratically elected leader to be dismissed from office when the Constitutional Court in March 2017 upheld a parliamentary impeachment vote against her.
Having boycotted her trial since the fall of last year, she did not appear for Friday’s sentencing at the Seoul Central District Court, from where the session was broadcast live. She has denied all charges against her.
Park was indicted in April last year for allegedly colluding with her confidante Choi Soon Sil to solicit and take a total of 77.4 billion won in bribes from business conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics Co. Other charges included abuse of power, coercion and leaking confidential information.
Park’s immediate predecessor, Lee Myun Bak, was arrested late last month over corruption, making him the country’s fourth former president to be arrested on criminal charges.
Park, the daughter of assassinated military ruler Park Chung Hee, became South Korea’s 18th president in February 2013, after defeating rival candidate Moon Jae In in a presidential election.
In April 2014, following a ferry sinking that left over 300 people dead or missing, her government’s poor handling of the disaster attracted heavy criticism.
In October 2016, local television network JTBC reported that Park’s longtime confidante, Choi, had accessed classified presidential office documents, including drafts of Park’s speeches that had yet to be delivered and Cabinet meeting documents.
As the scandal unfolded, large demonstrations broke out across the nation, demanding Park’s impeachment and ouster. The peaceful protests were referred to as the “candlelight revolution” as many participants staged candlelight vigils.
Parliament passed an impeachment motion against Park in December that year over corruption and abuse of power. She was ousted from office on March 10, 2017, around a year short of her five-year tenure.
With the former president stripped of her immunity from indictment, prosecutors arrested her later that month.
In May, Park’s onetime rival candidate Moon won a presidential election and became new president. Her trial began the same month.
Additional information from english.kyodonews.net