SEOUL – South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to 24 years in jail after she was found guilty of abuse of power and coercion.
The first female president of South Korea was not in court on Friday for the verdict which was broadcast live, the BBC reported.
Park, who was also fined 18bn won (£12m, $17m), faced a string of corruption charges.
She has boycotted her trial hearings and has previously accused the courts of being biased against her. She has also denied all wrongdoing and has said she will appeal her sentence.
Park was found guilty of 16 out of 18 charges, most of which related to bribery and coercion.
The court ruled that she had colluded with her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure conglomerates such as electronics giant Samsung and retail chain Lotte to give millions of dollars to foundations run by Choi.
She was also convicted of forcing companies to sign lucrative deals with firms owned by Choi and donate gifts to Choi and her daughter. In addition, Park was found guilty of leaking confidential presidential documents to Choi, who was eventually found guilty of corruption, and sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year.
Judge Kim Se-yoon said Park had shown “no sign of repentance” after causing “massive chaos” in the country.
“We cannot help but sternly hold her accountable,” the judge said.
South Korea’s presidential residence, the Blue House, issued a statement after the verdict calling it a “heartbreaking event for the nation”.
“A history that is not remembered is bound to be repeated,” it read.
The 66-year-old has seven days to file an appeal.
Park was removed from office in March 2017, making her the first democratically-elected president to be impeached.
She was arrested shortly afterwards, and has been in detention ever since.