Top court confirms 20-year term prison for ex-president Park Geun-hye

Jan 15, 2021, 08:38 am

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Former President Park Geun-hye/ Photographed by Song Eui-joo

AsiaToday reporters Heo Kyung-joon & Lee Wook-jae

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 20-year sentence for former President Park Geun-hye. The final verdict brought to an end one of the greatest political scandals in the country, three years and nine months after she was first indicted over the corruption case. With the finalizing of her sentence, Park is now eligible for a special pardon.

Cheong Wa Dae issued a statement on the Supreme Court sentence of Park, saying the corruption case was finalized with the court’s judicial judgment following the people’s candlelight revolution and the National Assembly’s impeachment. “Such an incident should never be repeated, through taking the tragic incident of a former president serving in prison as a historical lesson,” the office said. Regarding the ongoing political debate as to whether the president should pardon Park, the office said, “It would be inappropriate to discuss pardons immediately after the Supreme Court ruling was made.”

The top court confirmed the lower court’s decision to sentence Park to 20 years in prison for bribery, abuse of power and other criminal charges, on top of a fine of 18 billion won and a forfeit of 3.5 billion won.

Park was indicted in April 2017 on charges including abuse of power by colluding with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil and ex-presidential aide An Chong-bum to force some large conglomerates to donate a total of 77.4 billion won to Choi Soon-sil’s non-profit foundations, K-Sports and Mir. Park was also indicted on charge of colluding with Choi to receive bribe money from Samsung Group for Choi’s daughter Chung Yura’s horse-riding support fund. 

Park was formally sentenced to 24 years in prison with a fine of 18 billion won in the power abuse case. This was later raised to 25 years and a fine of 20 billion won after the Seoul High Court reviewing Park of bribery, extortion, abuse of power and other convictions together. But the Supreme Court ordered the Seoul High Court to deal with Park’s bribery charge separately from other charges, based on a law for cases involving a president or other elected officials.

During the retrial, the Seoul High Court merged the two standing cases, including Park illegally accepting off-the-book funds worth 3.6 billion won from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) from May 2013 to September 2016 in collusion with her aides. The High Court had handed Park a five-year term and a fine of 2.7 billion won over the spy fund charges. But the Supreme Court also ordered a retrial on the case, saying that the suspects of treasury losses and bribery that were found innocent in the second trial should be deemed guilty. 

In a retrial in July last year, the court sentenced Park to a total of 20 years in prison, 15 years for corruption and another five for abuse of power. 

Park will have to serve 22 years in prison, including a two-year jail term for her 2018 conviction for illegal meddling in a nomination process of the then-ruling Saenuri Party. 

#Park Geun-hye #Supreme Court #final verdict #corruption #special pardon 
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