Former South Korean president's friend handed 3-year jail sentence

Friday, June 23rd, 2017
Last Update: 09:52

Choi Soon-sil, the friend of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, has been sentenced to three years in jail. She was accused of using her presidential ties to get her daughter into Ewha Women΄s University.

The Seoul Central District Court found Choi Soon-sil guilty on charges of obstruction of duty on Friday after using her ties with ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye to get her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, admitted to Ewha Womans University.

The court said Choi, Park΄s friend for 40 years, "committed so many illegal activities" as she pressured university administrators to grant admission and then give favors to her daughter.

"Choi violated laws and proper procedures to benefit her daughter," the court said. Opinion: South Korea needs courage to undertake reforms Prosecutors accused Choi, 61, of conspiring with faculty there to have Chung΄s academic records altered - including grades for exams she never took - despite poor class attendance and plagiarized reports.

Choi Kyeong-lee, the former president of the university, Namkung Gon, the former head of admissions, were also handed two-year and one-and-a-half-year prison sentences for their roles in the affair.

Chung, now 21 and an Asian Games equestrian gold medalist, had her entrance to the university and her high school diploma canceled after authorities found her high school attendance and test grades had been forged.

Bigger trial still to come

Choi Soon-sil is also being tried separately on charges of extortion, abuse of power and attempt to fraud to extort bribes from business conglomerates.

She is accused of colluding with Park, who was indicted on bribery and other charges in April, to extort tens of millions of dollars in bribes from the country΄s largest companies.

Choi and Park have denied all charges against them. The bribes included $21 million (18.8 million euros) from Samsung, $7 million of which prosecutors say the electronics company provided to a sports firm controlled by Choi that financed Chung΄s equestrian training in Germany.

Chung was extradited from Denmark last month and is being investigated for her involvement. Prosecutors have twice sought an arrest warrant for Chung, claiming she was a key player in the bribery scandal. She has acknowledged during questioning that she knew of Samsung΄s sponsorship and that Choi asked her to keep it secret.

Park was formally removed from office and arrested in March after she was impeached by lawmakers last December. Moon Jae-in took her place as South Korea΄s president after winning election in May.

dv/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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