South Korea’s ex-president Park jailed for 24 years

A South Korean court sentenced former president Park Geun-hye (pictured right with former Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff) to 24 years in prison and 18 billion won ($111 million) in fine on Friday after convicting her of bribery, abuse of power, extortion and other charges, local reports say.

Park was removed from power early last year after her arrest over a massive corruption scandal.

In a live televised trial, the Seoul Central District Court convicted  her of 16 counts of corruption. Park did not appear in the trial. She has been boycotting hearings citing illness and claiming that the proceedings have been politically motivated.

Prosecutors had demanded a 30-year jail term for the former president.

Park, South Korea’s first female president who took office in early 2013, became the nation’s first elected head of state to be ousted and now the third former leader to be convicted of corruption.

The court found beyond doubt that Park colluded with her friend Choi Soon-sil, giving her unwarranted access to the business of government. Choi was alleged to have taken tens of millions of dollars from conglomerates in return for policy favours.

Park was found to have colluded with Choi to pressure 18 business groups to donate a total of 77.4 billion won to help launch two foundations controlled by Choi.

Choi was tried separately by the Seoul Central District Court and, in February, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Among the other figures who were implicated in the scandal was Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, who was initially sentenced to five years in jail last year.

Although the term was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal, Lee, son of Samsung group boss Lee Kun-hee, spent almost a year in jail.

The scandal led to a parliamentary impeachment of Park in December 2016. She was formally removed from office by the Constitutional Court on March 10 the following year.