A former President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye was on Friday found guilty of corruption charges and sentenced to 24 years imprisonment.
Park Geun-hye, the first woman to be elected as President of South Korea was declared guilty of multiple counts of abuse of power, bribery, and coercion by Seoul Central District Court.
While delivering the judgment, the judge accused Park of failure to judiciously use the mandate given to her by the electorate: "The President abused the power which was given to her by the citizens,"
The judge added that tough sentence imposed on Park was necessary in order to send a note of warning to future leaders.
The court ruled that Park colluded with her old friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive tens of billions of won from major conglomerates such as Samsung and Lotte to help Choi’s family and fund non-profit foundations owned by her.
She was also convicted of collecting or demanding a total of nearly $22 million in bribes from three of South Korea’s top business conglomerates, including Samsung, Lotte and SK.
Separately, she was found guilty of coercing the three companies, and 15 other businesses into making donations worth 72 million dollars to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend and confidant.
Prosecutors initially sought a 30-year sentence and a 118.5 billion won (112 million dollars) fine for Park, after indicting her on charges that included bribery, abuse of power and coercion.
Aside from the 24 years sentence, the court also fined the former President the sum of $17 million.
Park and her lawyers were not present in the court to hear the verdict.
Media reports indicate that they refused to appear because the court had chosen to broadcast the judgment live, the first time such would happen in South Korea.
Numerous supporters of the embattled former president gathered at different locations to watch as the judge passed judgment.
Park who was impeached by South Korea’s parliament on 9 December 2016 is currently under arrest at the Seoul detention center.