Former South Korean President Park found guilty

JUST IN: Ex-president sentenced to 24 years in Jail

Of the 18 charges of corruption and power abuse the prosecution had levied against Park, who did not attend the sentencing, the court found her guilty of 16.

Aside from the 24 years sentence, the court also fined the former President the sum of $17 million.

Condemned in the media for her "Rasputin-like" influence over Park, Choi was convicted of using her presidential ties to squeeze tens of millions of dollars out of major South Korean businesses, including Samsung - the world's top smartphone maker - and retail giant Lotte.

South Korea has been in turmoil since 2016 when it was revealed how much adviser and close confidant Choi Soon-sil wielded power over Park.

Former leaders Chun and Roh received presidential pardons after each spent around two years in jail - a privilege that may elude Park for many years, said Jeong Han-wool, an analyst at the Seoul Hankook Research think-tank. It said Park was unaware that the money was in return for helping Samsung complete a merger of group firms that was needed for a smooth leadership succession.

"Park, denying all of the charges, did not appear to be remorseful about her wrongdoings", said Kim Se-yoon, the lead judge in the case.

Park, 66, maintains that she's a victim and has been refusing to attend court sessions since October. She is the first South Korean president to be removed from office through a court proceeding and the third president to be convicted of a crime.

Amid all the political point scoring and legal procedures, massive protests triggered across South Korea both in support and against Park.

Park became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office a year ago when the Constitutional Court ordered her out over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail. She was indicted the following month.

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Park lawyer's are expected to appeal her sentence.

During her father's 18-year rule, Park Geun-hye served as first lady after her mother was killed in an assassination attempt targeting her father in 1974.

"The defendant abused the presidential authority delegated from the people of this country and it resulted in a large amount of chaos in terms of public order and state management".

Park is the latest former leader of South Korea to run afoul of the law.

Kim Yong-sam, president from 1993-1998, managed to ruin the South Korean economy, and he left office with an absolutely abysmal approval rating.

But her relations with the Choi family have long haunted her political career.

Her father, Park Chung-hee, orchestrated a military coup in 1961 and ruled Korea as a dictator who brutally crushed dissidents and opposition.

Three months later, the eight-member Constitutional Court then voted unanimously to remove her from office.

"It's an act of arrogance for Park not to be present in a series of trials, which is clearly an act to disregard the people of the Republic of Korea".

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