Former President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison and fined 18 billion won ($16.8 million) on Friday, after a Seoul court found her guilty of 16 charges of corruption and power abuse.
NAN reports that Park's conviction on bribery, coercion, abuse of power and other charges was the first lower-court ruling on a criminal case to be broadcast live in South Korea.
Aside from the 24 years sentence, the court also fined the former President the sum of $17 million. The sentence was more lenient than the 30 years sought by prosecutors.
The court ruled that Park colluded with her old friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive millions of dollars from major conglomerates such as Samsung and Lotte to help Choi's family and fund non-profit foundations owned by her. "She is the country's first former leader to be arrested and convicted of crimes since two former military-backed presidents were found guilty of sedition and corruption in the 1990s", the New York Times noted.
Ms Park's ten month trial, most of which she boycotted, revealed lurid details of a shady nexus between business and political elites.
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Her supporters, mostly elderly South Koreans, have insisted on her innocence, holding weekend marches in downtown Seoul and shouting for her release.
The corruption scandal triggered months of mass protests and political turmoil in South Korea. She has one week to appeal the decision.
1998: After years of avoiding the public eye, Park enters politics and wins a parliamentary seat amid public nostalgia for her father as the country struggled with a financial crisis.
"Each person would have had different feelings about former President Park".
Choi, the daughter of a cult leader once accused of having "complete control over Park's body and soul during her formative years", held no political office but is accused of using her influence over the President to funnel money to organizations she controlled and get her daughter a place at an elite university.
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Conservative and older South Koreans had gathered outside the court to support Park.
In a presidential by-election triggered by Park's early exit, Moon won an easy victory against wounded conservatives.
Park is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, a dictator who ruled the nation for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. An arrest warrant was issued for Park shortly after she was removed from office.
Two predecessors, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were convicted in 1996 of mutiny, treason and corruption and sentenced to long prison terms but both received presidential pardons and were freed after a couple of years.
"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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