Former South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has been convicted of multiple counts of corruption and sentenced to 24 years in jail. She’s also been ordered to pay a fine of $17 million. It’s the latest in a corruption scandal that has gripped South Korea. CGTN’s Jack Barton reports.
It was the first time a verdict had been broadcast live from the Seoul Central District Court, where on Friday former president Park Geun-hye was handed a 24-year jail sentence along with the equivalent of $17 million in fines for her part in a corruption scandal that shook the nation.
“Massive chaos was brought about and led to the impeachment of the president, which was unprecedented in our constitutional history,” said Judge Kim Se-yun of the Seoul Central District Court.
Prosecutors had demanded a 30-year sentence and more than $100 million in fines.
Park refused to attend Friday’s deliberations, but perhaps watched it live on television like millions of people across the country, most of whom approved of her impeachment and arrest.
But outside the courthouse, there was anger among her loyal supporters.
“Everything is fake,” said Kenny Cho, a pro-Park demonstrator. “She’s not guilty and this is mob justice.”
“There is no justice in Korea,” exclaimed another.
It’s the toughest verdict in a corruption scandal that has engulfed South Korea since last year, but it’s not the first.
Park’s friend Choi Soon-sil has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in helping Park solicit tens of millions of dollars from big conglomerates like Samsung, whose acting head Lee Jae-yong also received a suspended sentence for his involvement in the same corruption case.
Park refused to attend the last six months of her trial and dismissed her lawyers, citing bias by the court.
Her publicly appointed defenders said they would mount an appeal.
“Our public defenders did our best, but we regret today’s court ruling, which is really bad. However, this is just a verdict of the first trial,” explained Kang Cheol-gu, a public defender.
“We believe the judges will make a right judgement in the appeal trial at the Supreme Court.”
Park was also convicted of charges relating to the creation of a blacklist targeting artists critical of her administration.
The 66-year-old former president is the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, credited by many with creating the conditions that led to South Korea’s rapid economic rise.