Former President Park sentenced to 24 years in prison

Former President Park sentenced to 24 years in prison

A trial which lasted more than 10 months ended with Park being found guilty on multiple criminal charges, including bribery and abuse of power. Park was also fined almost $17 million.

Announcing the verdict on Friday, Judge Kim Se Yoon, ruled that major conglomerates including Samsung and Lotte had been forced to donate a total of £68million to Ms Choi's non-profit foundations.

The leader was, however, conspicuous by her absence at the court since she boycotted the trial accusing to be biased against her.

Park did not appear in the courtroom in protest against the live broadcasting.

The sentence announced on Friday - in the absence of ousted leader - is six years less than the punishment proposed by the prosecutors, however, the disgraced leader, who happened to be the first-ever female president of the country, denies any wrongdoing.

"South Koreans are my family", she once declared.

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Park who was impeached by South Korea's parliament on 9 December 2016 is now under arrest at the Seoul detention center. According to prosecutors charges, she had taken a bribe of at least euro 25m from companies like Samsung and the retail company Lotte.

The presidential Blue House said in a statement after the verdict: "Each person must have different feelings about former President Park Geun-Hye".

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.

Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee was jailed for a similar term on charges of bribery and embezzlement but in a surprise decision in February, an appeals court freed him after a year in detention.

Experts said the verdict was as expected and was in line with other verdicts in one of the biggest corruption scandals to have hit South Korea.

The court said Park also colluded with senior government officials to blacklist artists critical of her government and passed on presidential documents with sensitive information to Choi via one of her presidential aides.

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Weeks of massive anti-Park protests broke out after the media exposes, leading to Park's impeachment by parliament in December 2016.

Park, 66, is the daughter of former South Korean military leader Park Chung-hee. He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

Up to 1,000 Park supporters gathered outside the court, holding national flags and signs calling for an end to "political revenge" against her.

Park apologized while in office for seeking help from Choi, who had no policy or political experience, but that was as close as she came to admitting any guilt.

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

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