Park Geun-hye: South Korea's ex-leader jailed for 24 years for
Ms Park was brought to court in May 2017 shortly after her arrest
South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye has been
sentenced to 24 years in jail after she was found guilty of abuse of
power and coercion.
The verdict was broadcast live and represents the
culmination of a scandal which rocked the country, fuelling rage against
political and business elites.
Park, who was also fined 18bn won (œ12m, $17m), faced
a string of corruption charges.
The former leader was not in court on Friday for the
She has boycotted her trial hearings and has
previously accused the courts of being biased against her. She has also
denied all wrongdoing and has said she will appeal against her sentence.
Judge Kim Se-yoon said Park had shown "no sign of
repentance" after causing "massive chaos" in the country.
"We cannot help but sternly hold her accountable," the
South Korea's presidential residence, the Blue House,
issued a statement after the verdict calling it a "heartbreaking event
for the nation".
"A history that is not remembered is bound to be
repeated," it read.
The move by the authorities to allow Friday's verdict
to be broadcast live was unprecedented, but they cited extraordinary
public interest in the case.
South Koreans watched as the verdict was broadcast live
What was she convicted of?
Park was found guilty of 16 out of 18 charges, most of
which related to bribery and coercion.
The court ruled that she had colluded with her close
friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure conglomerates such as electronics
giant Samsung and retail chain Lotte to give millions of dollars to
foundations run by Choi.
She was also convicted of forcing companies to sign
lucrative deals with firms owned by Choi and donate gifts to Choi and
In addition, Park was found guilty of leaking
confidential presidential documents to Choi.
She has seven days to file an appeal.
What led to her downfall?
A friendship lies at the heart of the undoing of South
Korea's first female president.
Park and Choi were childhood friends and Choi swiftly
became the leader's most trusted confidante.
But their relationship latterly came under intense
public scrutiny and the charge is that Choi had undue influence over a
nation's affairs through her connection with Park.
Choi (centre) was a longtime friend and adviser to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye
Choi was eventually found guilty of corruption, and
sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year.
After a prolonged series of hearings and months of
street protests calling for her resignation, Park was finally removed
from office in March 2017, making her the first democratically-elected
president to be impeached.
She was arrested shortly afterwards, and has been in
detention ever since.
Park's supporters gathered outside the court in Seoul demanding her release
Who else was caught up in this?
Some of the biggest South Korean companies and their
leaders have been drawn into the scandal, as well as numerous figures
from the entertainment world and government servants.
Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong, also known as
Jay Y Lee, was singled out in particular after details emerged that he
had given a horse to Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra, who is an equestrian.
He was sentenced to jail, but only served five months
before he was freed, when an appeals court reduced and suspended his
Ms Chung has also faced scrutiny, and was extradited
from Denmark to South Korea last year to face questioning.
Is this unusual in South Korea?
Park, the country's first female leader, was also the
first democratically-elected president to be impeached.
But she is not the only former president to have been
arrested for corruption.
Why South Korea's corruption scandal is nothing new
Last month former leader Lee Myung-bak was charged
with corruption over allegations he took bribes while in office.
Two others, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were
convicted for treason and corruption in the 1990s.
In 2009, former president Roh Moo-hyun killed himself
while he was under investigation for corruption.
What does the verdict mean for the country?
Park's sentencing has drawn a line under what has been
one of the biggest corruption scandals to rock South Korea in recent
The scandal has created greater awareness and
criticism of the longstanding close ties between the political elite and
chaebols, or family-run conglomerates which dominate South Korea's
It has also fuelled the rise of the liberal Moon Jae-in,
Park's previous political opponent who eventually replaced her as
president after campaigning on a platform of a clean government.
But South Koreans are divided on the verdict. Several
hundred Park supporters gathered outside the court waving national flags
during the ruling.
Some sat in tears after the conviction, with others
started a protest march.
"The rule of law in this country is dead today," said
one pro-Park demonstrator.
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