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Confidante of deposed South Korea leader jailed for 20 years

Tuesday 13/February/2018 - 04:42 PM
 Choi Soon-sil attends
Choi Soon-sil attends court during her trial. Photograph: K
Edited by Mohamed Emad

The former confidante of South Korea’s ousted president Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in the scandal that brought down Park، according to The Guardian.

Choi Soon-sil، who through her father، a religious figure، became close to Park، was vilified during the nationwide protests that shook Asia’s fourth-largest economy and culminated in Park’s impeachment last year.

Choi was accused of colluding with Park to extort millions from South Korean firms including the telecommunications firm Samsung and the retail conglomerate Lotte، and of using her connection with the president to meddle in state affairs.

The Seoul central district court found her guilty of abuse of power، bribery and meddling in state affairs.

The judge، Kim Se-yoon، told a packed courtroom that Choi took advantage of “long private ties” with Park to force companies to donate funds to foundations she controlled.

She accepted a total of 14bn won (£9m) from Samsung and Lotte، he said، and “meddled in state affairs widely”.

“The guilt of the accused is heavy،” he said، adding that she had shown no repentance.

Choi showed little reaction as the sentence was passed.

The verdict is a potential pointer for Park’s trial. Fifteen of the 18 charges Choi faced mirror counts on the former president’s indictment.

Choi’s fellow accused، Shin Dong-bin، the chairman of Lotte، South Korea’s fifth-biggest conglomerate، was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

He was arrested in court، having been on bail during the trial.

Park’s former aide Ahn Jong-beom was jailed for six years.

Choi pleaded not guilty. She claimed she never pursued any personal benefits but attempted to help Park’s work، and lashed out at the prosecution for framing her.

Her defence lawyer، Lee Kyung-jae، previously said Choi fell victim to a political plot intended to topple the Park government، and that there was little evidence she profited from the alleged corruption.

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