Saturday, 22 September, 2018

S Korea's ex-president Park gets 24-year jail term for corruption

Park is expected to learn her fate at the detention centre near Seoul where she has been in custody for almost a year Park is expected to learn her fate at the detention centre near Seoul where she has been in custody for almost a year
Pete Mitchell | 07 April, 2018, 00:48

A South Korean court on Friday found former President Park Geun-hye guilty of abuse of power and coercion.

A panel of three judges at the Seoul Central District Court found the former leader guilty of most of a dozen charges ranging from bribery to coercion, abuse of power and the leaking of state secrets.

The former president's prison sentence is four years longer than that of Choi Soon Sil, who was sentenced with 20 years in prison.

A Seoul TV station had also obtained Choi's tablet computer containing many confidential presidential documents, including drafts of Park's speeches. It said Park was unaware that the money was in return for helping Samsung complete a merger of group firms that was needed for a smooth leadership succession. She denied most of the allegations, head judge Kim Se-yoon said.

Park, 66, who has been in jail since March 31 past year, has denied wrongdoing and was not present in court. She is the first South Korean president to be removed from office through a court proceeding and the third president to be convicted of a crime.

The corruption scandal triggered months of mass protests and political turmoil in South Korea.

Park, 66, has been held at a detention center near Seoul since her arrest in March 2017, but she refused to attend Friday's court session, citing sickness. She was indicted the following month. "The verdict was anticipated, but it has shortcomings", said Park Jun-woo, lawyer and vice secretary-general of Lawyers for a Democratic Society (Minbyun).

Park was expelled from the LKP in November past year after her impeachment and subsequent removal from office.

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"Release (President Park) immediately!" the marchers chanted as they walked between thick lines of police officers.

Park was also convicted of the charges related to her government's creation and management of an artist blacklist deemed critical of her government.

President Park Geun-hye of South Korea inspects a guard of honour mounted by Kenya Air Force during a welcome reception by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi when she visited the country in may 2016.

Surprising enough, Moon's office said Park's fate was disheartening not only for herself but the nation. She quickly becomes a heavyweight in conservative politics.

The ruling follows the arrest two weeks ago of her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, a conservative from the same party, over a separate bribery case before and during his 2008-2013 term in office.

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of another president, Park Chung-hee, who seized power in 1961 and was assassinated eight years later.

"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".

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