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M - Park Geun-hye, South Korea's first female president, was sentenced to 24-years in prison after being found guilty of crimes that exposed deep links between politics and the nation's corporate giants, Bloomberg reported.

NAN reports that Park's conviction on bribery, coercion, abuse of power and other charges was the first lower-court ruling on a criminal case to be broadcast live in South Korea.

February 13: The court sentences Choi, Park's friend, to 20 years in prison for bribery. The sentence was more lenient than the 30 years sought by prosecutors.

The court found guilty of Park's collusion with Choi to abuse her presidential power and coerce local conglomerates, including Samsung and retail giant Lotte, to donate tens of millions of US dollars to nonprofit foundations which the court said Choi actually controlled.

Former leaders Chun and Roh received presidential pardons after each spent around two years in jail - a privilege that may elude Park for many years, said Jeong Han-wool, an analyst at think tank Hankook Research. It said Park was unaware that the money was in return for helping Samsung complete a merger of group firms that was needed for a smooth leadership succession.

"The accused abused the power bestowed by the people - the true ruler of this country - to cause chaos in national administration", said Judge Kim Se-yoon.

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As the trial concluded, Park's supporters demonstrated in Seoul to demand her release. She didn't attend Friday's verdict, citing a sickness that wasn't specified publicly. Park lost her presidential immunity and was dismissed from her post when the constitutional court upheld a decision by parliament to impeach her.

Park's sentencing has drawn a line under what has been one of the biggest corruption scandals to rock South Korea in recent years.

Park has been held at a detention center near Seoul since her arrest in March 2017, after she was removed from office on a landmark court ruling. She was indicted the following month.

Park has one week to decide whether to appeal the verdict.

During her father's 18-year rule, Park Geun-hye served as first lady after her mother was killed in an assassination attempt targeting her father in 1974.

"Each person would have had different feelings about former President Park". Outside the court, hundreds of supporters of Park had gathered to watch the verdict on a large screen, waving Korean and United States flags and calling for her release.

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President Park Geun-hye of South Korea inspects a guard of honour mounted by Kenya Air Force during a welcome reception by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi when she visited the country in may 2016.

The predecessor of Park, Lee Myung-bak also like Park is accused bribery and abuse of power.

Moon's office said Park's fate was "heartbreaking" not only for herself but for the country, and added that history that was not remembered history would be repeated.

Park and Choi were childhood friends and Choi swiftly became the leader's most trusted confidante.

Less than four years later, she was impeached, stripped of all her powers and ousted from office on the back of months-long mass protests that brought millions on to the streets of Seoul and other cities.

"South Koreans are my family", she once declared.

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