Park Geun-hye, a former President of South Korea, who has been on trial for corruption and abuse of power has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Her sentencing brings a close to the probe into a scandal that exposed webs of double-dealing between political leaders and conglomerates in the country.
Park, 66, was not present for the ruling on Friday having boycotted proceedings since October, and has one week to appeal the charges against her.
Prosecutors had sought a 30-year jail sentence and an £80m fine on charges that also included bribery and coercion.
The court agreed with prosecutors that Park had colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to solicit bribes to the tune of £25m from South Korean conglomerates including Samsung and the retail company Lotte in exchange for policy favours.
Choi, a pastor’s daughter who had no government experience, was said to have so much control over Park that one opposition lawmaker had described the country as “a scary theocracy”.
She was jailed for 20 years in February for using her influence to gain favour and enrich herself, and the heads of Samsung and Lotte were both given shorter prison sentences.
The scandal exposed long-held suspicions in South Korea: an entangled web of government and the chaebol – sprawling business conglomerates that dominate the economy.
Park was South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from office outside the electoral process, her downfall last year coming after weeks of street protests known as the Candlelight Revolution, a parliamentary impeachment and finally an order from the country’s constitutional court.
The scandal notwithstanding, Park still commands a loyal following in South Korea, especially among elderly people who supported her hawkish line on North Korea and fondly remember her father, Park Chung-hee, who ruled for 18 years from 1961 and lifted the country out of poverty following the Korean war.
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