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Former South Korea president Park jailed for 24 years

Former South Korea president Park jailed for 24 years

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was formally convicted of an array of corruption charges and sentenced to 24 years in prison on Friday, a year after she was driven from office and arrested over a scandal that saw months of massive street rallies calling for her ouster.

The ex-president was also fined 18 billion won (US$16.8 million) - which was just a tenth of the amount requested by the prosecution.

In a first for South Korea, the sentencing was broadcast live on television - a sign of the intense public interest in the case.

The court also ruled that Park, in connivance with senior government officials blacklisted artists who were critical of her government to deny them state assistance programs.

Park's friend, Choi, was convicted and jailed for 20 years after a separate trial in February. The court's chief judge said the punishment was necessary to prevent similar wrongdoing by other presidents in the future.

Geun-hye Park was found guilty of bribery, a state that informed the ruling.

"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".

Park became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office past year when the Constitutional Court ordered her out over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail. According to prosecutors charges, she had taken a bribe of at least euro 25m from companies like Samsung and the retail company Lotte.

The two women were also convicted of taking bribes from some of those companies, including more than 7 billion won ($6.5 million) alone from Samsung.

A spokesperson for current President Moon Jae-in said in a statement that Friday's proceedings were "heartbreaking", and vowed that its lessons would be remembered.

Although the 24-year sentence doled out to former president Park Geun-hye was a hefty punishment for deep levels of corruption, dirty dealings in high places are nothing new to South Koreans.

South Korea's first President Syngman Rhee, from 1948-1960, embraced authoritarianism and clung to power through rigged elections and corruption, critics say.

Her father was killed five years later and Park withdrew for a while but entered the political scene again in the 1990s after witnessing the effects of Asia's economic crisis.

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.

The liberal-controlled parliament impeaches Park in December.

Three months later, the eight-member Constitutional Court then voted unanimously to remove her from office.

She was charged and arrested soon after her dismissal from office. After he died in 1994, Choi became Park's closest confidante and came to wield so much influence that she dictated Park's wardrobe, edited her presidential speeches, and decided who could work for the president.


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