South Korea's Ex-President Sentenced To 24 Years For Corruption

Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye found guilty of abuse of power and coercion

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been found guilty of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion.

The court found guilty of Park's collusion with Choi to abuse her presidential power and coerce local conglomerates, including Samsung and retail giant Lotte, to donate tens of millions of USA dollars to nonprofit foundations which the court said Choi actually controlled.

She was also accused of collecting bribe to the tune of £25 million and pressuring companies to fund nonprofits run by Choi's family. "Her fines were calculated based on the laws she has violated". Similar charges were laid against Choi, while Samsung Samsung Group chief Lee Jae Yong and Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong Bin were charged with bribing Choi.

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.

Separately, she was found guilty of coercing the three companies, and 15 other businesses into making donations worth 72 million dollars to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend and confidant.

He was sentenced to jail, but only served five months before he was freed, when an appeals court reduced and suspended his sentence.

A Seoul TV station had also obtained Choi's tablet computer containing many confidential presidential documents, including drafts of Park's speeches. The court said she leaked at least 14 state secrets to Choi.

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She was indicted for corruption and other charges in April a year ago.

"While personally damaging to South Korea's first female leader, the corruption scandal has also resulted in a major blow to conservatives in the following election".

Moon's office described Park's fate as "heartbreaking" for the nation. "She neglected her constitutional responsibilities and shared her power with a private citizen". The court proceeding had been broadcast live on television for the first time since a law allowing broadcasts was passed previous year. Though she filed an injunction requesting that only a section of the hearing be broadcast, the court dismissed it. She cited sickness as the reason for not appearing for the verdict.

Park Geun Hye was embroiled in a corruption scandal in 2016 that led to a public outcry, after which she was officially removed from office and arrested in March of 2017.

Park Geun-hye is not the only former South Korean president to face criminal charges.

She was also convicted of collecting or demanding a total of almost $22 million in bribes from three of South Korea's top business conglomerates, including Samsung, Lotte and SK. He was sentenced to death but released after two years under a presidential pardon.

Thousands of Park's loyal supporters took to the streets near the Seoul Central District Court on Friday to protest against the courts' decision.

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