S. Korea's Park given eight more years in prison: Court

AFP , Friday 20 Jul 2018

People watch a TV screen showing a file footage of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Kore, Friday, July 20, 2018. (AP photo)

Disgraced South Korean president Park Geun-hye was convicted of charges including illegally receiving funds from the country's spy agency on Friday and given eight more years in prison, on top of her current term.

Park, the South's first female president, was impeached last year after huge street protests over a sprawling scandal, and was jailed for 24 years for corruption and abuse of power in April.

Friday's penalty - issued in her absence after she refused to attend the Seoul Central District Court - came after a separate trial for pocketing money from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and improperly intervening in 2016 in the selection of her ruling party's parliamentary candidates.

The Seoul Central District Court gave Park six years for taking 3.3 billion won ($2.9 million) from the spy agency, and two years for the electoral offence.

The penalties apply consecutively, meaning the 66-year-old now faces a total of 32 years in prison.

"The accused received some three billion won over three years from the three NIS chiefs. Through this crime, the accused incurred a considerable amount of loss to the state treasury," said senior judge Seong Chang-ho at the Seoul Central District Court.

Three former NIS chiefs testified they had funnelled the funds to Park on her orders, the court said.

The judge rebuked Park, who denied the charges, for being "un-cooperative" throughout the court hearing and questioning by prosecutors.

Park allegedly squandered the taxpayer money on maintaining her private house, financing a boutique where her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil - the central figure in the corruption scandal - had Park's clothes made and other private purposes, including massage treatment.

Choi was found to have taken advantage of her "long private ties" with Park to extort bribes worth millions of dollars from businesses including telecommunications giant Samsung and retail conglomerate Lotte.

She is serving a 20-year sentence for abuse of power, bribery and meddling in state affairs.

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