In Brief

Former South Korea president Park Geun-hye jailed for 24 years

Nation’s first female leader found guilty of abuse of power and coercion

South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison today after being found guilty of multiple counts of abuse of power, bribery and coercion.

The verdict, broadcast live on South Korean television, represents “the culmination of a scandal which rocked the country, fuelling rage against political and business elites”,  the BBC reports.

Park, 66, was alleged to have colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former presidential aide, in pressuring businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

She was also accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group for government favours.

Handing down the sentence at Seoul Central District Court, the judge said that Park had “abused the power which was given to her by the citizens”. The former president, South Korea’s first female leader, was also fined 18bn won (£12m).

The daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee - assassinated in 1979 - Park held office from 2013 until March 2017, when she was stripped of her powers after the country’s Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach her. She was arrested weeks later.

Park, who has been held at a detention centre since her arrest, was not present in court for today’s verdict. She has one week to appeal the decision.

The scandal “exposed what has long been widely suspected in South Korea: the entangled web of government and sprawling business conglomerates that dominate the country’s economy”, say The Guardian. “While personally damaging to South Korea’s first female leader, the corruption scandal has also resulted in a major blow to conservatives in the following election.” 

The liberal Democratic Party’s Moon Jae-in swept to power in the presidential election last May, with 41% of the vote, while the candidate from Park’s Liberty Korea Party lagged behind with 24%.

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