South Korean top court upholds 20-year jail term for ex-president Park
SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA) – The top court of South Korea on Thursday upheld the 20-year jail term awarded to former President Park Geun-hye on corruption charges, which led to her fall from grace. This brings an end to the legal procedure and raises for the first time the chances of a pardon.
When the Constitutional Court upheld a parliament vote to impeach her over a scam in 2017, Park became the first democratically elected leader of the country to be removed from power. The scam also landed the heads of two conglomerates in prison.
Park, who is the daughter of a military dictator, assumed office in 2013 as the first woman president of South Korea. However, she was shunted from office after being found guilty of colluding with a confidante to receive tens of billions of won from big conglomerates to help her family and fund non-profit organisations she owned.
The case was heard in different courts and there was a retrial in July 2020. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling which upholds her jail sentence and a fine of 18 billion won ($16.38 million) has plugged all legal loopholes.
The 68-year-old former leader has been in prison since March 31, 2017, and she has pleaded not guilty. She was not present during the Supreme Court ruling.
With the legal procedures coming to a close, it has cleared all obstacles for a presidential pardon, which her supporters are clamouring for.
“President Park Geun-hye is innocent,” said the right-wing Our Republican Party in a statement.
“The members of Our Republican Party want President Park to be freed as soon as possible.”
Seeking national unity, the head of the ruling Democratic party, Lee Nak-yon, has pitched in the idea of a presidential pardon for Park and another former president Lee Myung-bak, who is in jail on graft charges.