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South Korean court extends former President Park Geun-hye’s prison term to 25 years

Reuters

A South Korean appeals court on Friday sentenced former President Park Geun-hye to 25 years in jail, Yonhap news agency reported, in a case arising from a far-reaching corruption scandal that toppled her in 2017.

Park became South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office when the Constitutional Court removed her over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail.

The Seoul High Court found that Park colluded with her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive tens of billions of won from major conglomerates to help Choi’s family and fund nonprofit foundations owned by her, Yonhap reported, citing the court.

The court also fined Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, 20 billion won ($17.86 million) after finding her guilty of charges including bribery and coercion, Yonhap said.

A lower court jailed Park for 24 years in April. Prosecutors appealed against that decision, seeking a tougher sentence.

Another South Korean court sentenced Park in July to eight more years in prison in a separate case arising from the same scandal, finding her guilty on charges of causing the loss of government funds and interfering in a 2016 parliamentary election.

Park, 66, has been in jail since March 31, 2017, but has denied wrongdoing and was not present in court. She returned to South Korea’s presidential palace in 2012 as the country’s first woman leader more than three decades after she left it following the assassination of her father.

Her ouster last year led to a presidential election won by the liberal Moon Jae-in, whose conciliatory stance on North Korea has led to a significant warming of ties with the North.

She is the third former South Korean leader to be convicted on criminal charges after leaving office, joining Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, who were both found guilty of treason and corruption in the 1990s.

In addition former President Roh Moo-hyun committed suicide in 2009 after being questioned over graft allegations involving his family.