South Korea's disgraced former president Park Geun-hye was jailed for 24 years Friday for corruption, completing a dramatic fall from grace for the country's first woman leader who became a figure of public fury and ridicule.
A trial which lasted more than 10 months and highlighted shady links between big business and politics in South Korea ended with Park being found guilty on multiple criminal charges, including bribery and abuse of power.
Park's successor described the sentencing as a "heartbreaking event" for both the nation and the ex-leader herself.
"The accused abused the power bestowed by the people -- the true ruler of this country -- to cause chaos in national administration," said Judge Kim Se-yoon, delivering the ruling.
Park, 66, was convicted of receiving or demanding more than $20 million from conglomerates, sharing secret state documents, "blacklisting" artists critical of her policies, and firing officials who resisted her abuses of power.
"Despite all these crimes, the accused denied all the charges against her, displayed no remorse and showed an incomprehensible attitude by blaming Choi and other... officials," Kim said, referring to Park's secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil. Park was also ordered to pay a fine of 18 billion won ($17 million).
The scandal has already led to the arrests, indictments and convictions of dozens of high-profile government officials and business leaders. Choi is serving a 20-year prison term; Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong was initially sentenced to five years in prison before his sentence was suspended on appeal; and Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin was given 2½ years in prison.
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