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[Newsmaker] Ex-President Park gets reduced term

A high court on Thursday sentenced former President Park Geun-hye to five years in prison for causing losses to state coffers by unlawfully receiving money from chiefs of the country’s spy agency.

The Seoul High Court handed down the five-year prison term and asked her to pay 2.7 billion won ($2.3 million) in forfeitures, a reduction of one year from the lower court’s ruling and down from 3.3 billion won.

The prosecution said it would appeal. It sought a 12-year term in prison for Park, charging her with bribery and causing losses to state funds.

Park was accused of conspiring with her confidants to receive about 3.5 billion won from three chiefs of the National Intelligence Service between May 2014 and September 2016 during her presidency.

The lowest court found her not guilty of bribery charges, but guilty of causing losses to state funds. The high court, however, saw part of the money transfers as embezzlement, partially acquitting her of causing losses to state coffers.

Park, who has boycotted all her trials, did not appear in court.

Park’s combined prison terms total 32 years. She is serving a 25-year prison term over a corruption scandal that led to her removal from office in 2017, with the Supreme Court ruling pending.

Separately, the high court sentenced Park to a two-year prison term in November last year on charges of illegally interfering in the then ruling party’s candidate nominations ahead of the general elections in April 2016. The sentence was confirmed as Park and prosecutors did not appeal.