South Korea’s ex-President gets prison time extended to 25 years
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South Korea’s ex-President gets prison time extended to 25 years

A SOUTH KOREAN appeals court on Friday increased the sentence of former President Park Geun-hye by one year to 25 years for the over the corruption that led to her impeachment last year

Park is South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office. Her ouster followed months of political paralysis and turmoil over a corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail.

According to national news agency Yonhap, the Seoul High Court also increased her fine by KRW2 billion (US$1.78 million) to KRW20 billion (US$10.78 million).

The prosecution had earlier appealed a lower court’s decision to sentence the 66-year-old to 24 years jail with a KRW18 billion (US$16.1 million) in April.

SEE ALSO: S. Korea: Court removes Park Geun-hye from office, 2 dead in ensuing protests 

The Seoul High Court found that Park colluded with her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive tens of billions of won from major conglomerates to help Choi’s family and fund non-profit foundations owned by her, according to the court documents cited by Reuters.

“Such unethical dealings between political power and financial power harms the essence of democracy and distorts order in the market economy, giving the people a grave sense of loss and deep distrust of our society,” presiding judge Kim Mun-suk said in the ruling.

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(File) Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye sits for her trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ahn Young-joon/Poo

“A strict penalty is unavoidable,” Kim said.

The scandal came to light in Nov 2016 when local cable TV network JTBC broke a story revealing evidence that Choi had received confidential documents and influenced government matters.

The scandal took on a strange twist when rumors swirled of Choi’s links to a religious cult, depicting her as a “shaman” who has been manipulating Park through supernatural means and even comparing her to Russian mystic Rasputin.

SEE ALSO: South Korea: Park Geun-hye apologises, promises cooperation in graft probe 

In July, another South Korean court sentenced Park to eight more years in prison in a separate case arising from the same scandal. She was found guilty on charges of causing the loss of government funds and interfering in a 2016 parliamentary election.

Park, whose former defence team resigned en masse last year in protest against a court’s handling of her case, has been defended by state attorneys.

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The former president has been in jail since March 31, 2017, but has denied wrongdoing and was not present in court.

Park’s removal from office last year paved way for an election win by liberal Moon Jae-in, who has soften ties with North Korea in recent months.