A Seoul court has sentenced former President Park Geun-hye to 24 years in prison on corruption charges. Park was ousted early last year in a massive corruption scandal involving her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.
The Seoul Central District Court delivered the verdict on Friday, almost a year after the disgraced former leader was indicted on 18 charges in April last year.
In the sentencing televised live from 2:10 p.m., the court found Park guilty of 16 charges and sentenced her to 24 years behind bars and a fine of 18 billion won.
The prosecution had sought a 30-year prison sentence and a fine of 118-point-five billion won.
The court said the defendant abused her authority as president that resulted in a major confusion in state order and an unprecedented expulsion of the president. It said the main responsibility for these wrongs lies with the defendant who abandoned the responsibilities granted by the Constitution.
Sixty-six-year-old Park did not show up at the sentencing hearing. She has been boycotting her trial in protest of the court's decision to extend her detainment in October.
Charges leveled against her included bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking state secrets.
On the charge that Park, in collusion with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, received or was promised 43-point-three billion won in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the court recognized seven-point-29 billion won of that amount as bribes.
The court also found that she extorted seven billion won from Lotte Group and 8-point-nine billion won from SK Group in exchange for business favors.
Park was also found responsible for blacklisting artists and cultural figures critical of her government. She had denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.
Park was removed from office in March last year on a Constitutional Court ruling that followed massive public protests.
In February, Choi Soon-sil was found guilty of most of the 18 charges against her, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, five years less than what prosecutors requested.
Park has become the third former South Korean leader to be convicted of corruption following Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo. The two had also labeled their trials as “political retaliation” as Park has argued.
Following the verdict, her defense team said they will decide whether to appeal against the court decision after consulting with Park.