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A former President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye was on Friday found guilty of corruption charges and sentenced to 24 years imprisonment.

Park, who was removed out of office in March past year over an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, was convicted of 16 corruption counts that include bribery, abuse of power and coercion.

Along with the prison sentence, Park was also fined $16.8 million, Kim said. The prosecution had demanded a jail term of 30 years.

Park, 66, was alleged to have colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former presidential aide, in pressuring businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives. It said Park was unaware that the money was in return for helping Samsung complete a merger of group firms that was needed for a smooth leadership succession. She has also denied all wrongdoing and has said she will appeal against her sentence. Park lost her presidential immunity and was dismissed from her post when the constitutional court upheld a decision by parliament to impeach her.

Amid all the political point scoring and legal procedures, massive protests triggered across South Korea both in support and against Park.

Park Geun Hye was embroiled in a corruption scandal in 2016 that led to a public outcry, after which she was officially removed from office and arrested in March of 2017. She was indicted the following month. Her lawyers are expected to appeal.

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Park was expelled from the LKP in November previous year after her impeachment and subsequent removal from office. But her presidency was controversial from the start, dogged by admissions that the country's spy agency flooded social media channels in the final days of the presidential election to help her to victory.

The scandal has already led to the arrests, indictments and convictions of dozens of high-profile government officials and business leaders.

Park, the daughter of assassinated dictator Park Chung-hee, faced a total of 18 charges but was absent in court, however, her flag-waving supporters gathered outside. Outside the court, hundreds of supporters of Park had gathered to watch the verdict on a large screen, waving Korean and U.S. flags and calling for her release. She quickly becomes a heavyweight in conservative politics.

Park's four years in office were marred by rising animosity with rival North Korea over its advancing nuclear program, a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people, mostly teenagers on a school trip, and criticism that she curbed free speech and didn't manage things transparently.

A spokesperson for current President Moon Jae-in said in a statement that Friday's proceedings were "heartbreaking", and vowed that its lessons would be remembered.

The predecessor of Park, Lee Myung-bak also like Park is accused bribery and abuse of power. Lee was convicted of bribing Park in a bid to tighten his grip over the company.


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