09:55 GMT +324 January 2019
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    Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the South Korean political scandal and long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, appears for her first trial at the Seoul Central District Court on January 5, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea

    South Korean Ex-President’s Confidante May Be Sentenced to 25 Years in Jail

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    Choi Soon-sil, the 61-year-old daughter of the former president’s religious guru and Park Geun-Hye’s close friend, faced major criticism at the nationwide protests last year, which resulted in Park’s impeachment.

    South Korean prosecutors are demanding a 25-year prison sentence for impeached Park Geun-hye’s confidante, who, according to them, might have been “the alpha and omega of the corruption scandal,” that eventually took Park down. Choi is reported to have colluded with Park in a bid to extort millions of dollars from giant corporations in South Korea, including Hyundai and Siemens, and taken advantage of her connection to the ex-president to interfere in state policymaking without holding any official position.

    The prosecution has charged Choi with 18 crimes, including bribery and the abuse of power, and seized an estimated $116 million. The defendant denies all these allegations; verdicts are expected in January.

    READ MORE: South Korean Court Approves Arrest Warrant for Ex-President Park Geun-hye

    Park Geun-hye, who was sworn in as the first female president of South Korea in 2011, was forced from office in 2016 following a corruption and cronyism scandal which was accompanied by mass protests throughout the country. Her impeachment came immediately after the information about her relationship with Choi Soon-sil was revealed. The prosecution accused her of bribery, the abuse of power, coercion, and leaking government secrets. Park became the country’s first democratically elected president to be removed from office.

    impeachment, Bribery, corruption scandal, Park Geun-hye, South Korea
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