Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been found guilty of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion. She was sentenced to 24 years in prison, though prosecutors initially requested 30 years.
The former leader previously denied any wrongdoing, and the sentence was announced in her absence. The first female South Korean president was boycotting the hearing in protest of the court’s October decision to extend her incarceration by six months, Yonhap reports.
Park was accused of colluding with her friend Choi Soon-sil, who had been already sentenced to 20 years, in taking tens of millions of dollars from conglomerates.
The high-profile graft scandal led to the president’s impeachment in December 2016, and triggered massive protests across South Korea both supporting and condemning Park.
Park, 66, is the daughter of former South Korean military leader Park Chung-hee. She became the third South Korean president convicted of crimes. The others were former military generals involved in a 1979 coup and a 1980 civilian massacre.
Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, who held the presidential office from 2008 to 2013, is also currently in detention as he is suspected of multiple corruption charges. Unlike Park, he finished his presidential term and was arrested in the wake of the latest scandal in March, 2018.
The graft scandal involved high-profile businessmen, including the vice chairman of Samsung Group, Jay Y. Lee. He was initially sentenced to five years in prison for bribery. However, in February, just before the Winter Olympics kicked off in South Korea, he was released as his sentence was suspended and reduced to two and a half years.