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Lawyer of ex-President Park hints at appeal

07 April, 2018, 00:45 | Author: Janis Wilson
  • Former Pres. Park Geun-hye Won't Appear in Trial to be Broadcast Live

The scandal that led to the jailing of former South Korean president Park Geun Hye for 24 years on Friday (April 6) came to light in September 2016, when thousands of students at Seoul's prestigious Ehwa University staged a protest against the manipulation of the academic records of a student.

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, arrives to attend a hearing on the extension of her detention at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea. She also received a fine of US$17 million. She was tried separately and sentenced in February to 20 years in prison.

The court found that Park, had colluded with her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil to solicit bribes from South Korean conglomerates, including Samsung.

Park was also found guilty of ordering an aide to leak government secrets to Choi. It said Park was unaware that the money was in return for helping Samsung complete a merger of group firms that was needed for a smooth leadership succession.

"The accused abused the power bestowed by the people - the true ruler of this country - to cause chaos in national administration", said Judge Kim Se-yoon, delivering the ruling. She did not attend Friday's session, which was televised live.

Park's sentencing has drawn a line under what has been one of the biggest corruption scandals to rock South Korea in recent years.

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She was impeached by lawmakers that December and removed from office by a Constitutional Court ruling in March 2017. She was indicted the following month. Her lawyers plan to appeal.

Park's departure from the presidential palace in Seoul previous year plunged her conservative Saenuri Party into turmoil.

Major General Park Chung-hee, president from 1961-1979 and father of Park Geun-hye, was ultimately assassinated by his spy chief at a party.

President Moon Jae-in came to office a year ago on a drive to wipe out what he calls "deep-rooted evil" across society. Older, conservative South Koreans, who remembered the dictatorship of Park's father fondly as a period of strength for the country, were her electoral base and a common sight throughout the impeachment process. "Given her attitude and public anger over her scandal that remains raw, it will be hard to create a political environment in favour of her release anytime soon". Ten days later, she is arrested.

Younger, liberal voters, who staged months of protests against Park before her ouster, will be hoping the verdict will be a watershed in efforts by the new government to end the self-serving collusion between political leaders and the powerful conglomerates known as chaebol.

"It's an act of arrogance for Park not to be present in a series of trials, which is clearly an act to disregard the people of the Republic of Korea".

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