Dirty deeds in high places nothing new to South Koreans

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The ousted president has not shown up in any court hearing since October previous year to protest against her extended detention for six more months.

Park was not present in the court, having refused to attend court hearings since last October.

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.

"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", said Judge Kim Se-yun in translated comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.

Along with the prison sentence, Park was also fined 18 billion won ($16.8 million), Kim said. She also received a fine of US$17 million.

She is accused of conspiring with her longtime friend and confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to force 53 firms to donate 77.4 billion won ($72.6 million) to two charitable foundations controlled by Choi.

According to The Korean Times, companies involved in the scandal included Hyundai Motor, Samsung, Lotte Group, telecom company KT and steelmaker POSCO.

The court said Park also colluded with senior government officials to blacklist artists critical of her government and passed on presidential documents with sensitive information to Choi via one of her presidential aides.

The scandal has already led to the arrests, indictments and convictions of dozens of high-profile government officials and business leaders.

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In August 2017, Samsung's acting head, Lee Jae-yong, had already been jailed for five years for bribery and embezzlement.

They carried flags and banners reading: "Immediately release innocent President Park Geun-hye", and "Stop murderous political revenge".

Park was Korea's first female president and the first president to be ousted.

When Park defiantly stayed in office, lawmakers impeached her in December 2016 and a court removed her in March of a year ago.

Amid all the political point scoring and legal procedures, massive protests triggered across South Korea both in support and against Park. But he's also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents.

According to the reports, Choi, who, had no government experience but was branded in a United States diplomatic cable as having "complete control over Park's body and soul during her formative years".

But in 2016, reports of Choi's influence emerged, leading to revelations that she had been extracting money from big businesses on the president's behalf. "Given her attitude and public anger over her scandal that remains raw, it will be hard to create a political environment in favour of her release anytime soon".

In 1974, Park's mother was assassinated by a North Korean sympathizer who was trying to kill her father.

Choi was convicted and jailed for 20 years after a separate trial in February.

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