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Secret confidante of S Koreas Park jailed for 20 years over scandal

AFP  |  \R Seoul 

The secret confidante of ousted South Korean Geun-hye was convicted today and jailed for 20 years for her key role in the scandal that brought down the former

Choi Soon-sil, who became close to through her father, a shadowy religious figure, was vilified at the massive nationwide protests that rocked Asias fourth-largest economy and culminated in Parks impeachment last year.

She was accused of colluding with to extort millions from giant South Korean firms including and Lotte, and using her connection with the to meddle in state affairs.

The found her guilty of abuse of power, bribery and meddling in state affairs.

told a packed courtroom that Choi took advantage of "long private ties" with Park to force companies to donate funds to foundations she controlled.

She accepted a total of 14 billion won (USD 13 million) from and Lotte, he said, and "meddled in state affairs widely".

"The guilt of the accused is heavy," he said, adding that she had shown no repentance.

Choi, who wore a dark blue coat and a badge bearing her prison number, showed little reaction as the sentence was passed.

The verdict is a potential pointer to the decision in Parks separate trial, as 15 of the 18 charges Choi faced mirror counts on the ex-presidents own indictment.

Chois fellow accused Shin Dong-bin, the of the group, fifth-biggest conglomerate, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

He was arrested in court, having been out on bail during the trial.

Former Park was jailed for six years.

Choi pleaded not guilty, claiming she never pursued any personal benefits but attempted to help Parks work, lashing out at the prosecution for "framing" her.

Her previously said.Choi fell victim to a political plot intended to topple the Park government, asserting there was little evidence she profited from the alleged corruption.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 13 2018. 14:05 IST