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Iran Press TV

South Korea court upholds jail for ex-President Park Geun-hye

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 14 January 2021 10:39 AM

South Korea's highest court has upheld a 20-year jail term for former President Park Geun-hye over corruption charges and other crimes that led to her downfall.

In a ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the jail sentence and a fine of 18 billion won ($16.38 million) for the disgraced president, bringing to an end an extended legal process and clearing the way for a presidential pardon, which Park's supporters have been calling for.

Park, the South's first female president, was impeached in 2017 after huge street protests over a sprawling scandal, and was jailed for 24 years for corruption and abuse of power. A series of appeals, a retrial, and further appeals followed, reducing her sentence to 20 years.

Park was accused of colluding with her friend, Choi Soon-sil, and a former presidential aide — both of whom have been on trial — to extort money from big companies.

She was also accused of making improper demands or receiving illicit requests from Samsung Group.

Park faced 18 criminal charges, including bribery, coercion, and abuse of power for offering governmental favors to corporate chiefs who bribed Choi.

The 65-year-old Park, who has apologized for the impact of the scandal, has nevertheless denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

She has refused to attend her trials since October 2017, saying the courts are biased against her, and was not present in court on Thursday.

The end of the legal process makes her legally eligible for a special presidential pardon.

"President Park Geun-hye is innocent," the right-wing Our Republican Party said in a statement, calling for her to be freed as soon as possible.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has yet to directly address the possibility of freeing his predecessor.

The chief of the ruling Democratic Party, Lee Nak-yon, has raised the idea of a pardon for Park and another ex-president, Lee Myung-bak, also in jail on corruption charges, as a gesture for "national unity."

A survey by the pollster Realmeter last week found 47.7 percent of respondents in favor of a pardon and 48 percent against it.

Park was the third former South Korean president to stand trial for corruption following Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, former army generals who served jail terms in the 1990s for charges that included bribery and treason.

However, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo received presidential pardons after serving about two years.

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