South Korea top court upholds ex-President Park's 20-year sentence

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 14, 2021

In a separate but related trial, she received a two-year prison sentence for illegally influencing the ruling Saenuri Party's candidate nomination process for 2016 general elections.

Finalizing of her prison term makes Park eligible for a special presidential pardon.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 20-year sentence for former President Park Geun-hye in a high-profile corruption case, closing the yearslong saga that gripped the country and ultimately removed her from office in 2017.

Park has been imprisoned for about three years and nine months, the longest period for a former president. She has boycotted court proceedings since October 2017, claiming they are biased against her. Her lawyer didn't return calls seeking comment.

Park became the country's fourth ex-president convicted of criminal offenses.

What did Park Geun-hye do? Presidential officials avoided specific answers when asked about the possibility of Moon pardoning Park and Lee.

Park's left-leaning successor Moon Jae-in was swept to power by the public backlash against her and her conservative party.

Following earlier appeals court rulings, Park was originally to serve a combined prison time of 30 years, including 25 years for accepting bribes from large conglomerates such as Samsung and Lotte Group while conspiring with her longtime friend Choi Soon Sil.

Park was ousted from Cheong Wa Dae in March 2017 due to her involvement in a massive abuse-of-power and bribery scandal.

The reduced term reflected the top court's ruling in August 2019, in which Park was cleared of part of the abuse of power charges, and of an extortion charge raised over her alleged act of having conglomerates pay donations to two foundations controlled by Choi.

Her case has been tried in several courts over several years, but the Supreme Court's decision exhausted her legal avenues.

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

But the Supreme Court in October 2019 ordered the Seoul High Court to deal with Park's bribery charge separately from other charges.

The remaining five years was for causing the state to lose funds in connection with a bribery scandal involving South Korea's National Intelligence Service.

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by prosecutors and upheld the sentence handed down by the Seoul High Court in July a year ago. She has already completed serving that sentence.

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