S. Korea’s top court upholds ex-president’s 20-year jail term

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea’s top court upheld a 20-year prison sentence for disgraced former president Park Geun-hye yesterday, in the final ruling over the corruption scandal that brought her down.

The decision brings to an end an extended legal process that involved multiple trials and appeals, including a previous Supreme Court hearing.

The country’s first female president was impeached in 2017 after huge street protests against her rule.

She was convicted the following year of bribery and abuse of power and jailed for 30 years. A series of appeals, a retrial and further appeals followed which reduced her sentence to 20 years.

Yesterday, the case went for a second time before the Supreme Court, which said it accepted and confirmed the 20-year sentence.

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrives to attend a hearing on the extension of her detention at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul. PHOTO: AP

The court also upheld fines and forfeits totalling KRW21.5 billion (USD19.5 million).

Park has been boycotting the proceedings, saying they are biased against her, and was not present in court yesterday.

In addition, she has separately been sentenced to two years in prison – to run consecutively – for election law violations.

She now faces a total of 22 years behind bars and would be in her 80s by the time her sentence is up.

The corruption scandal exposed shady links between big businesses and politics in South Korea, with Park and her close friend Choi Soon-sil accused of taking bribes from conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics, in exchange for preferential treatment.