A South Korean court sentenced Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of ousted President Park Guen-hye, to three years in prison for bribery in the first of a string of criminal cases against her.
Seoul Central District Court on Friday found Choi guilty of obstruction of duty by using her presidential ties to get her daughter admitted to Seoul’s prestigious Ewha Womans University and receive good grades.
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Choi Kyung Hee, the former president of Ewha Womans University, and Namkung Gon, the university’s former head of admissions, were also jailed for two years and one-and-a-half years respectively for providing 21-year-old Chung Yoo-ra with favourable treatment.
Chung was extradited from Denmark last month and is currently being investigated by prosecutors who see her as a key figure in the suspected bribery connections between former President Park and corporate giant Samsung.
Choi, 61, is also being tried alongside Park over claims they forced top companies, including Samsung, to “donate” tens of millions to foundations Choi controlled.
Choi could face decades in jail if convicted on the charges of extortion and abuse of power.
Following months of massive protests by millions and impeachment by politicians in December, Park was formally removed from office and arrested over the corruption scandal in March.
She was indicted in April on bribery and other charges.
Park, who is currently on trial for bribery, coercion, abuse of power and leaking state secrets, is also accused of allowing Choi to meddle in official government business, despite not holding any office.
Samsung’s heir Lee Jae-Yong, who was arrested in February and is currently on trial, has denied asking for policy favours when he met Park, arguing that Samsung was a victim of blackmail by the ex-president and Choi.