Speed Reads

Crime and punishment

Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye sentenced to 24 years for corruption

A court in Seoul convicted former South Korean President Park Geun-hye of bribery, extortion, abuse of power, and other corruption-related charges on Friday and sentenced her to 24 years in prison and a $16.8 million fine. Park, who maintains her innocence, was not in court to hear the verdict. She has a week to appeal the verdict; she claimed to be ill but has refused to appear in court since October. "It's inevitable that the defendant should be held strictly responsible for her crimes, if only to prevent the unfortunate event of (a president) abusing the power given by the people and causing chaos in state affairs," Seoul Central District Court chief judge Kim Se-yun said in the televised hearing.

Park was impeached in December 2016 and removed from office in March 2017 by the Constitutional Court, and the scandal has also taken down longtime ally Choi Soon-sil, who is serving 20 years, and dozens of other government and business leaders, most prominently Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, whose five-year sentence was cut in half and suspended. Park is just the latest leader in South Korea to fall to corruption charges, The Associated Press notes. Her predecessor, fellow conservative Lee Myung-bak, was arrested and sent to jail last month on unrelated corruption charges, and the president before him, liberal Roh Moo-hyum, jumped to his death in 2009 as his family came under investigation for corruption.