A South Korean judge has found the former President Park Geun-hye guilty of abuse of power, as well as the crime of coercion. She has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Südkorea Park Geun Hye (picture alliance/AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A judge at Seoul Central District Court issued a lengthy verdict on Friday, eventually reaching a sentence six years shy of prosecutors’ demands.

“She misused her power which was handed to her by the people,” the judge said.

Park was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment, as well as a fine of 18 billion won (111 million dollars, 90 million euros).

The former president has been held at a detention center near Seoul since she was arrested in March 2017. She has refused to attend, citing illness and claiming that the proceedings have been brought for political motives.

Park, who became South Korea’s first female president in 2013, was impeached for corruption after weeks of demonstrations calling for her to step down.

She was accused of giving close friend Choi Soon-sil too much access to the business of government. The pair were alleged to have colluded in taking tens of millions of dollars from conglomerates in return for policy favors.

Read more: Choi Soon- sil – the woman who brought down a government

The 66-year-old politician was elected to the country’s national assembly five times. She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the former dictator who ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979.

After her impeachment in December 2016, Park was removed from office by South Korea’s Constitutional Court in March and, as a result, lost her immunity from prosecution.

South Korea has been gripped by the spectacular fall from grace of Park, a conservative icon who had assumed the role of an incorruptible “Daughter of the Nation.”

Choi was tried separately by the same court and, in February, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Among the other figures who were implicated in the scandal was Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, who was initially sentenced to five years in jail last year. Although the term was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal, Lee  — son of Samsung group boss Lee Kun-hee — spent almost a year in jail.

rc/msh (AP, Reuters)

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