Ex-S. Korean leader sentences 24-yrs jail term

Park Geun-hye was sentenced after found guilty of 16 corruption charges
SEOUL: Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Friday just over a year after she was expelled from office due to a scandal that drew millions of demonstrators on to the country’s streets.
Prosecutors had demanded a 30-year term for Park, 66, over 18 charges of power abuse — most of which involved a controversial private confidante, Choi Soon-sil.
While Choi was earlier sentenced to 20 years behind bars, Seoul Central District Court found Park guilty of 16 charges, including coercing tens of millions of dollars from the country’s largest conglomerates.
The ex-president was also fined 18 billion won (US$16.8 million) — which was just a tenth of the amount requested by the prosecution.
“The defendant abused the presidential authority delegated from the people of this country and it resulted in a large amount of chaos in terms of public order and state management,” said Judge Kim Se-yun in translated comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.
Thanks to a recent legal change, the verdict was shown live on television despite attempts by Park and her legal team to block the broadcast.
She claimed her right to presumption of innocence was infringed, having repeatedly refused to turn up in court on the grounds that the allegations against her were politically motivated.
Park was once again absent for Friday’s hearing.
Her guilty verdict is expected to drive calls for constitutional reform to limit South Korea’s presidential powers, as fellow former leader Lee Myung-bak is currently under investigation over a separate scandal.–AA

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