Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye guilty of abuse of power

The former South Korean president stands charged with 21 separate crimes including bribery, abuse of power and coercion, and could face up to 30 years in jail 

Park Geun-hye
Park Geun-hye

Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye has been convicted of abuse of power and coercion, in a court verdict being broadcast live.

Prosecutors sought a 30-year jail sentence and an£80m fine on charges that included bribery, abuse of power and coercion.

The case is part of a scandal that rocked South Korea and fueled anger against political and corporate elites.

Park colluded with her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil to solicit bribes from South Korean conglomerates including Samsung and retail giant Lotte in exchange for policy favours.

Prosecutors charged Park with 21 separate crimes and accused her of working with Choi in taking bribes of at least £25m and pressuring companies to fund nonprofits run by Choi’s family. She was also accused of leaking classified information.

She has consistently denied wrongdoing. She did however, apologise for allowing Choi to influence her, the closest she has come to an admission. Park has been in jail since March 2017.

Park’s rise to the presidency in 2013 was seen as a personal redemption 30 years after her father, then the country’s dictator, was assassinated. But while personally damaging to South Korea’s first female leader, the affair also resulted in a major blow to conservatives in the following election.

Park was South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from office outside the electoral process, her downfall coming after weeks of street protests known as the Candlelight Revolution, a parliamentary impeachment and finally an order from the country’s constitutional court.

Park’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, is also facing corruption charges and is accused of a host of crimes ranging from bribery to abuse of power to embezzlement and tax evasion. Two previous leaders were convicted of treason, mutiny and corruption in 1996, with one receiving a death sentence, but both were later pardoned.

More in World