Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye jailed for corruption

A judge at the Central District Court in Seoul gave his verdict and read out a lengthy explanation of the guilty decision.

The court said Park solicited 7 billion won (6.6 million USA dollars) in kickback from the Lotte chairman in return for providing business favors. Prosecutors had originally been seeking a 30-year sentence for Park.

Separately, she was found guilty of coercing the three companies, and 15 other businesses into making donations worth $72 million to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend and confidant.

She had also denied all wrongdoing.

Choi is the daughter of a shadowy religious figure who had served as a mentor to Park for decades until his death in 1994.

Although the 24-year sentence doled out to former president Park Geun-hye was a hefty punishment for deep levels of corruption, dirty dealings in high places are nothing new to South Koreans.

The first major challenge of her presidency came in 2014 when the Sewol ferry sunk, killing more than 300.

Media reports indicate that they refused to appear because the court had chosen to broadcast the judgment live, the first time such would happen in South Korea.

Park was officially ousted in March 2017 following months of protests calling for her resignation.

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The conviction was shown live - an unprecedented move in the country's history.

She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the former dictator who ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979.

But she is not the only former president to have been arrested for corruption.

The wide-ranging corruption scandal exposed shady links between big business and politics in South Korea, and prompted massive street protests. She was also accused of leaking classified information. But her relations with the Choi family have long haunted her political career.

Citing a lack of evidence, the judges rejected prosecutors' allegations that Park sought bribes from Samsung in return for government help to solidify Jay Y. Lee's control of the conglomerate.

It has also fuelled the rise of the liberal Moon Jae-in, Park's previous political opponent who eventually replaced her as president after campaigning on a platform of a clean government.

Many protesters sat or lay in the road crying, while others formed a protest rally calling for her release. The president's conservative rivals claim he's motivated by political revenge.

In 2009, former president Roh Moo-hyun killed himself while he was under investigation for corruption.