South Korea's Impeached ex-President May Face 30 Years in Prison


Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded a 30-year prison term for former South Korean President Park Geun-hye for alleged bribery, abuse of power and other crimes in a landmark corruption case that marked a stunning fall from grace for the country's first female leader and conservative icon.

Prosecutors asked a Seoul court to sentence Park to 30 years in prison and fine her 118.5 billion won (110.5 million US dollars) for corruptions, which they said left an ineffaceable stain in the country's history of constitution.

Park Seung-gil, a lawyer representing the former president, tearfully pleaded before Seoul Central District Court for mercy, saying Park had tried her hardest in leading the country "day and night".

The prosecution accused her of insincerity and told the court her expulsion from office had "left an inerasable blemish in history", according to Yonhap News Agency.

Park, 66, was dismissed in March past year after being impeached and is standing trial on charges of bribery, abuse of power and coercion.

Seoul Central District Court had also sentenced Shin Dong-bin, chairman of the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, Lotte Group, to two years and six months in prison in the same case. The senior executive, who spent a year in pre-trial detention, received a 12-year sentence, but sentence was suspended after a court of higher instance accepted his appeal and charged him.

Prosecutors held up her obvious disdain for the legal process as a sign of her lack of remorse for her involvement. However, the court can order her to attend her sentencing hearing, threatening her with an arrest warrant if her boycott continues.

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Prosecutors said a harsh sentence is necessary because Park continues to refuse to be questioned and keeps denying the charges.

In jail, Park reportedly has seen only a few visitors and her lawyers.

"Thirty years is the maximum prison sentence that can be handed down in South Korea, short of life imprisonment", said Rhee Joo-won, a law professor at Korea University. "The requested sentence is exceptional for any criminal, let alone for a former politician".

However, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) strongly protested the demand. She was ordered to serve 20 years.

Park Geun-hye, who was notoriously reclusive and had become estranged from her siblings, became friends with Choi's daughter, Choi Soon-sil, around this time and began to rely on her more and more.

In fact, the foundations were little more than private slush funds for Choi and Park and the donations were bribes for favorable business treatment.

The massive scandal cost Park her presidency and saw her indicted on 18 criminal charges nearly a year ago which have now swelled to 21.


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