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South Korea's ex-president sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Park's lawyers have one week to appeal the decision. (Song Kyung-Seok/Getty Images)

A South Korean judge has sentenced ex-president Park Geun-hye to 24 years in prison after being convicted of corruption, BBC News reported.

Park, who has refused to attend court since October, wasn't present on Friday when Chief Judge Kim Se-yun read the verdict on national television.

The Seoul Central District Court found the country's first female president guilty on 16 of 18 corruption charges.

What did she do?

Park, who maintains that she committed no wrongdoing, was found guilty of conspiring with her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure 18 of South Korea's biggest companies, including Samsung, to donate 77.4 billion won (approximately $72 million) to foundations she ran in exchange for favorable government treatment.

She was also found guilty of forcing companies to donate gifts to Choi and her daughter, and leaking confidential information to Choi.

"It's inevitable that the defendant should be held strictly responsible for her crimes if only to prevent the unfortunate event of a president abusing the power granted by the people and throwing state affairs into chaos from happening again," Chief Judge Kim Se-yun said.

In addition to her prison sentence, the court ordered the 66-year-old Park to pay a fine of 18 billion won (nearly $17 million).

Who is Park?

Park is the daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee who ruled S. Korea for 18 years in the 1960s and 1970s.

After her mother's murder in 1974, she served as first lady until her father's assassination five years later.

She was once considered the "Queen of Conservatives" for leading her party to numerous victories.

Park won her presidential bid in 2012.

In 2016, allegations of collusion with Choi emerged, which led to her impeachment December 2016.

Lawmakers removed Park from office in March 2017.

What else?

Park's lawyers have one week to appeal the decision.

Prosecutors, who had demanded Park be sentenced to 30 years, also have one week to appeal.

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