Park Sentenced to 24 Years Behind Bars

      April 06, 2018 16:01

      The Seoul Central District Court on Friday sentenced ex-President Park Geun-hye to 24 years in prison and fined her W18 billion on a raft of corruption and other criminal charges (US$1=W1,061).

      The sentence is heavier than that of her toxic confidante Choi soon-sil, who was sentenced to 20 years behind bars and a fine of W18 billion in February. Prosecutors had sought a 30-year prison term for Park and a W118.5 billion fine.

      Park was found guilty of abusing her power to take bribes from Samsung, Lotte and other conglomerates, drawing up a blacklist of artists and other cultural figures she considered hostile to her administration to cut them off from public subsidies, and leaking state secrets to Choi.

      The court said the heavy sentence was "inevitable" as the defendant keeps denying all charges and instead blames to Choi and her aides, and was uncooperative in trial proceedings.

      People watch a live broadcast of the verdict on ex-President Park Geun-hye at a railway station in Seoul on Friday. /Newsis

      The sentencing was broadcast over Park's objections, and she did not show up in court Friday, having submitted a written announcement of her absence. She has been boycotting the trial since the court extended her detention last October.

      It was the first sentencing to be broadcast live since the Supreme Court changed the rules in July last year, allowing courts to override defendants' objections in cases of great public interest.

      The historic event drew massive media attention as well as crowds in front of electronic billboards in the streets and at bus or train stations that showed the broadcast.

      Supporters of ex-President Park Geun-hye rally in front of the Seoul Central District Court on Friday. /Newsis

      Park is expected to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, which could take about a year.

      Hundreds of mostly elderly Park supporters gathered in front of the court to demand her release.

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