Park Geun-hye, Former South Korean President, Jailed for 24 Years

S. Korea court set to rule on ex-President Park

She is a daughter of leader Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea for about 18 years until his death in 1979. The harshness of the sentence is likely to deepen divisions in a country still wrestling with the aftermath of the most serious political turmoil in years.

The fall 2016 revelations that her close confidant, Choi, who had no official government position, was editing national policy documents and making behind-the-scenes decisions for the president led to street protests in which hundreds of thousands of Koreans called for Park's resignation.

The most deeply involved was Samsung, South Korea's largest conglomerate.

The Seoul Central District Court says it plans to issue a verdict on Park on Friday.

Her supporters, mostly elderly South Koreans, have insisted on her innocence, holding weekend marches in downtown Seoul and shouting for her release.

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A criminal trial was launched in May 2017, and Park was found guilty of 16 corruption-related counts, including bribery, coercion and abuse of power. The court's chief judge said the punishment was necessary to prevent similar wrongdoing by other presidents in the future.

Park, 66, was sentenced to 24 years in jail and fined 18 billion won (AU$22 million). Park was also fined almost $17 million. "She abused her power as the president and received 14 billion won worth of bribes from Samsung and Lotte, and requested 8.9 billion won from SK Group".

"Despite all these crimes, the accused denied all the charges against her, displayed no remorse and showed an incomprehensible attitude by blaming Choi and other. officials", Kim said, referring to Park's secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil.

The sentence will be a bitter blow for Park, who returned to the presidential palace in 2012 as the country's first woman leader, more than three decades after she left it following the assassination of her father.

Park's friend, Choi, was convicted and jailed for 20 years after a separate trial in February. There were no immediate reports of major clashes or injuries.

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When Park defiantly stayed in office, lawmakers impeached her in December 2016 and a court removed her in March of previous year.

Park's corruption scandals were nothing short of apocalyptic for South Korea's political culture, looping in the giant electronics corporation Samsung and sending the billionaire heir apparent to the company, Lee Jae-yong, to jail for 12 years in December. But he's also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents.

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.

But she is not the only former president to have been arrested for corruption.

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