Ex-S.Korean president Park's 20-year term upheld

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2021

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by prosecutors and upheld the sentence handed down by the Seoul High Court in July past year.

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

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

The 52-year-old chairman of Samsung Electronics is facing a ruling at the Seoul High Court next week in a retrial over charges that he bribed Park and Choi to win government support for a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates that helped strengthen his control over the country's largest business group. She was also fined 18 billion won ($15 million) and ordered to forfeit 3.5 billion won.

The court on Thursday also upheld fines and forfeits totaling 21.5 billion won (€16 million, $19.5 million).

Park initially faced a prison term of 30 years before the Supreme Court repealed the rulings in 2019 and sent her cases back to the Seoul High Court.

The chief of the ruling Democratic party, Lee Nak-yon, has floated the idea of a pardon for Park and another ex-president, Lee Myung-bak, also in jail on corruption charges, in the name of national unity.

Park was not present in court on Thursday.

Those charges related to a massive influence-peddling case that prompted widespread protests, implicated some of the country's most powerful figures and saw her removed from office in 2017. She has already completed serving that sentence.

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

When asked about a possible pardon, an official at the presidential Blue House said that it was inappropriate to raise the issue immediately after the court ruling and that Park's case should stand as a historical lesson.

If Park gets to fully serve her term, she will be released in 2039 at the age of 87.

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

But Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, former army generals who served jail terms in the 1990s for corruption and treason after leaving office, received presidential pardons after serving about two years.

Park's supporters, wearing black masks with the slogan "impeachment invalid" written on them, expressed frustration and disappointment with the ruling and said they could not accept the outcome.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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