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Verdict on South Korea’s Park to be televised live

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AFP

SEOUL (AFP) – The corruption verdict and sentencing of South Korea’s ousted ex-president Park Geun-hye will be televised live, a Seoul court said yesterday, in a case that could see her jailed for up to 30 years.

The 66-year-old daughter of a former dictator was impeached and arrested in March 2017 over a wide-ranging corruption scandal that exposed shady links between big business and politics and prompted massive street protests.

The Seoul Central District Court said it would allow the verdict and sentencing of Ms Park, set for Friday afternoon, to be broadcast live in light of high public interest.

It will mark the first time that a verdict and sentencing will be broadcast live since the country’s Supreme Court last year changed guidelines on court proceedings to allow such practices.

Ms Park has been boycotting her trial hearings since the court extended her detention last October, accusing the institution of being biased against her.

Even though she is widely expected not to attend Friday’s verdict and sentencing, she has asked the court not to allow live TV coverage of the hearing.

Prosecutors have demanded a 30-year-jail sentence and a 118.5 billion won ($110 million) fine for Ms Park, saying she must take responsibility for the scandal as the former president.

Ms Park is accused of colluding with her secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil, who has been convicted, for taking tens of millions of dollars from conglomerates in return for policy favours.

Ms Choi was sentenced to 20 years in prison, five years less than what prosecutors had demanded.

Ms Park’s downfall gave the left-leaning Democratic Party the upper hand in the presidential election last May, which was easily won by Moon Jae-in.

Ms Park has been in custody for almost a year at a detention center near Seoul, where she has refused to see any visitors, including her brother and sister, except for her two lawyers.

Aside from the 30 to 60 minutes in which she is allowed to take her daily outdoor walk, she confines herself to her 10-square meter solitary cell, spending most of the day reading novels and cartoons and writing what might be a memoir, according to local news reports.

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