South Korea has today found former President Park Geun-hye guilty of bribery over a scandal that’s rocked the country’s political and corporate establishment and uncovered close ties between the two.
Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to 24 years in prison, drawing a line under the saga that has gripped the country for over a year.
The court ruled — in a live broadcast of the trial — that Park colluded with her friend Choi Soon-sil to receive tens of billions of won from some of the country’s biggest conglomerates.
Payments from the likes of tech giant Samsung and the country’s fifth largest conglomerate Lotte were used to help Choi’s family and fund non-profit foundations she owned.
Park, who is 66, has denied any wrongdoing, pleading not guilty, and was not present in court — as for most of her trial — though she has been held in the country for more than a year.
Park is South Korea’s first democratically-elected president to be removed from office and corruption has tainted the office of South Korea’s leader for the past few years.
Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year jail sentence and an £80 million fine for the charges that included bribery, abuse of power, and coercion.
Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, returned to the presidential mansion in 2012 as the country’s first woman leader, more than three decades after she left it following the assassination of her father.
Choi She was jailed for 20 years in February while the chairman of the Lotte, Shin Dong-bin, was jailed for two years and six months.
Samsung Group heir Jay Y Lee was jailed for a similar term on charges of bribery and embezzlement but an appeals court freed him after a year in detention in February.