South Korean court finds ex-President Park Geun-hye guilty of abuse of power and coercion

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A judge at Seoul Central District Court issued a lengthy verdict on Friday, with the sentencing to follow.

Prosecutors have called for her to be given a 30-year jail term.

Park has been held at a detention center near Seoul since she was arrested in March 2017. She has refused to attend, citing illness.

Park, who became South Korea’s first female president in 2013, was impeached for corruption after weeks of demonstrations calling for her to step down.

Park had been accused of giving her close friend Choi Soon-sil too much access to the business of government. The pair were alleged to have colluded in taking tens of millions of dollars from conglomerates in return for policy favors.

The 66-year-old politician was elected to the country’s national assembly five times. She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the former dictator who ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979.

South Korea has been gripped by the spectacular fall from grace of Park, a conservative icon who had assumed the role of an incorruptible “Daughter of the Nation.”
Choi was tried separately by the same court and, in February, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

rc/msh (AP, Reuters)