South Korean prosecutors on Tuesday sought a 30-year jail term for former President Park Geun-hye who was ousted from office last year in a massive corruption scandal, demanding a heavier punishment than her confidante Choi Soon-sil who was sentenced 20 years in prison.
“(Park) undermined the value of the Constitution and peddled influence by privatizing presidential authority given by the people,” the prosecution said in a final hearing at Seoul Central District Court. Prosecutors also noted that the defendant was the first leader in the constitutional government to be removed from office, leaving an inerasable stain in history.
Along the prison term, the prosecution asked the court to fine Park 118.5 billion won ($110.2 million).
Park was indicted in April last year, becoming the third President of Korea to stand trial on 18 charges including bribery, abuse of power, and leakage of government secrets. She is accused of colluding with her close friend Choi to extort 77.4 billion won in funds from big conglomerates including Samsung and Lotte for K-Sports and Mir foundations, private organizations set up and run by Choi, in exchange for business favors. Park has denied all charges.
Prosecutors accused her of colluding with Choi to squeeze out 43.3 billion won of Samsung Group to sponsor equestrian training of Choi’s daughter Chung Yoo-ra.
Park is also accused of ordering to create and manage a blacklist of cultural figures critical of her and the government and leaking secret documents of the Blue House and government ministries to Choi through her former aide Jung Ho-sung.
The prosecution’s demand comes 317 days after Park was indicted in April. Park, who has been boycotting hearings since October in protest of the court’s decision to extend her detention, did not appear in the final hearing.
The legal circle expects Park to face heavy punishment given that Choi was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this month in the first trial. The court is expected to deliver its ruling for Park in late March or early April.
By Lee Hyun-jung and Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]