by Kim So-hyun
SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded 30 years in prison for former President Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in a massive corruption scandal that toppled her from office early last year.
The court is expected to deliver its verdict as early as late March.
Park did not attend the hearing at the Seoul Central District Court where prosecutors made the sentencing recommendation. She has been refusing to attend her trial after the court extended her detention in October for another six months. The former president has been in custody since late March last year.
Park was indicted in April last year on 18 charges including bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets.
She is accused of having collected or demanded 59.2 billion won ($55.3 million) in bribes from three conglomerates -- Samsung, Lotte and SK -- for herself or her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.
Prosecutors accused Park of colluding with Choi to coerce conglomerates to make donations worth over 77.4 billion won to two nonprofit foundations allegedly controlled by Choi.
Park was also indicted for allowing Choi, who held no official position in the government, to meddle in state affairs.
The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Choi to 20 years in prison earlier this month, in addition to a fine of 18 billion won and forfeiture of 7.29 billion won, on conviction of bribery, abuse of power and coercion. The prosecution had sought 25 years in prison for Choi, with a fine of 118.2 billion won and forfeiture of 7.7 billion won.
Park was ousted from office on March 10 last year as the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment by the National Assembly.
Earlier this month, the court ruled on several figures implicated in the influence-peddling scandal, including business tycoons.
Samsung Group heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, who was detained for nearly a year on charges of bribery, was released after an appeals court reduced his jail term to a suspended sentence on Feb. 5. Lee had been sentenced to five years in prison in August last year for giving 8.8 billion won to Park and Choi in return for government backing of the merger of two Samsung companies, which helped him strengthen his control over Samsung Group.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was put behind bars on Feb. 13 after the court convicted him of bribing Park to regain the license for a lucrative duty-free business. Shin was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, and forfeiture of 7 billion won, the same amount he offered to a nonprofit foundation controlled by Choi in exchange for the license.
Last week, the court sentenced Park’s former presidential aide Woo Byung-woo to 2 1/2 years in prison for dereliction of duty, abuse of power and perjury. The court found the ex-senior presidential secretary for civil affairs guilty of neglecting his duty to look into Choi’s wrongdoings and playing an active role in concealing them.
The prosecution last month indicted Park on additional charges of bribery and violating laws on elections and the state spy agency. Prosecutors suspect that the National Intelligence Service provided Park with monthly kickbacks worth around 3.8 billion won in total, which she used for personal purposes or illicit political activities. The additional charges are being dealt with in a separate trial.