Seoul (Reuters): South Korean prosecutors on Tuesday sought a 30-year jail term for former President Park Geun-hye who was ousted last year amid an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country’s business and political elite.
Park, 66, was dismissed in March after being impeached and is standing trial on charges of bribery, abuse of power and coercion. She denies wrongdoing.
The prosecution’s recommendation came two weeks after Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of Park who was at the centre of the scandal, was jailed for 20 years for taking bribes from “chaebol”, or conglomerates, including electronics powerhouse Samsung and retail giant Lotte.
Prosecutors are also seeking a 118.5 billion won ($127.1 million) fine.
A lawyer representing Park said he was requesting clemency as Park had tried her hardest “day and night” as president, according to the News1 agency. Park’s trial began in May and a verdict is expected before April.
Park’s case brought scrutiny to the cosy ties between South Korea’s political leaders and its largest chaebol, the so-called “Republic of Samsung”.
“(Park) brought a national crisis by letting a person who has never been involved in state management rule the country,” a prosecutor said.
“She and Choi took tens of billions of won in bribes and yet denied her crimes and obstructed efforts to establish the truth.”
Receiving bribes carries a penalty of up to life in jail.
The court also sentenced Shin Dong-bin, chairman of the country’s fifth-largest conglomerate, Lotte Group, to two years and six months in prison in the same case.
Seoul High Court suspended a prison sentence for Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee in early February – a surprise decision that sent shockwaves through political and business circles.
The court sentenced Lee to two and a half years in jail on charges including bribery and embezzlement – reducing the original term by half – but suspended the sentence for four years, meaning that he is unlikely to serve any more time in jail.