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Former South Korean President Park Found Guilty of Abusing Power


The Seoul Central District Court ruled Park guilty of bribery, extortion, abuse of power and other charges.

Park has one week to decide whether to appeal the verdict. She was sentenced to 24 years in prison, though prosecutors initially requested 30 years.

On the charge that Park, in collusion with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, received or was promised 43-point-three billion won in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the court recognized seven-point-29 billion won as bribery.

Now 76, Lee has denied wrongdoing and denounced the ongoing investigation as "political revenge". Additional charges she was convicted for included the leaking of confidential presidential documents to Choi Soon Sil, creating a blacklist of people in the cultural and entertainment industries, and more.

The liberal-controlled parliament impeaches Park in December.

Media reports indicate that they refused to appear because the court had chosen to broadcast the judgment live, the first time such would happen in South Korea. In early 2017, Park Geun-hye was removed from office following her impeachment.

The conviction was shown live - an unprecedented move in the country's history.

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. But he is also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents.

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Park Geun-hye joins the ranks of South Korea's many notorious leaders.

The scandal reignited public criticism in South Korea of the cosy and often corrupt ties between top officials and the powerful, family-run conglomerates - called chaebol - that dominate the world's 11th-largest economy.

Park apologized while in office for seeking help from Choi, who had no policy or political experience, but that was as close as she came to admitting any guilt.

The former leader was also charged for soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group for government favours.

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.

There is some residual sympathy for Park among her core supporters, who have always seen her as a heroically tragic figure who lost both her parents to assassins and devoted her life to the service of her country.

Many protesters sat or lay in the road crying, while others formed a protest rally calling for her release.

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