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Prosecutors demand 30-year-jail for former South Korean President Park

News Agencies | Updated on: 27 February 2018, 17:31 IST

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was sacked by the country’s top court in March last year over a wide-ranging corruption scandal and has been held in custody.

On Tuesday, South Korean prosecutors demanded a 30-year-jail sentence for Park. She was sacked over a wide-ranging corruption scandal which exposed shady links between big business and politics and prompted massive street protests.

Park daughter of a former dictator was dismissed in March 2017 and has now been in custody for almost a year.

“We ask the court to hand down 30 years in prison and (a fine of) 118.5 billion won (US$110 million) for the accused, who must take ultimate responsibility for the scandal as the 18th president of this country,” prosecutors said in a statement.

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They said Park, in collusion with her secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil, took or was promised bribes totalling 59.2 billion won (US$52 million) from three South Korean companies, Samsung, Lotte and SK, in return for policy favours.

Park has also been charged with coercing 18 large firms to “donate” a total of 77.4 billion won to two dubious foundations controlled by Choi.

The Seoul Central District Court earlier this month found Choi guilty of abuse of power, bribery and interfering in government business and sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

The verdict and sentence was seen as a potential pointer to the decision in Park’s separate trial in the same court, because 15 of the 18 charges Choi faced mirror charges against the ex-president.

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A date for the verdict on Park may be announced at the end of Tuesday’s session.

“The accused (Park) abused her power delegated by the people for private gain for Choi and herself... violated core constitutional values on the protection of the market economy and free democracy,” the statement said.

“Consequently, the accused became the first president to be sacked through impeachment, leaving an indelible scar on the country’s constitutional history.”

The prosecutors also rebuked Park for “allying with the chaebol instead of the people”, in reference to the country’s family-controlled large conglomerates, accusing her of strengthening “unhealthy ties between political power and economic power”.

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They also decried her attitude toward justice.

When allegations about Choi’s misdeeds started surfacing in news media, Park tried to mislead public opinion and denounced the reports as “political offensives”, prosecutors said.

The scandal sent her once-bulletproof approval ratings to record lows, with tens of thousands taking to the streets for months calling for her ousting. But she retained a loyal following from groups of mainly older rival protesters.

First published: 27 February 2018, 16:49 IST