South Korea's top court orders second retrial for ex-leader Park

Supreme Court says charges dropped on appeal 'misunderstood the legal principles' adding Park 'should be found guilty'.

    The 67-year-old former leader could be approaching 100 by the time she is set to be released from jail [File: Ahn Young-joon/Reuters]
    The 67-year-old former leader could be approaching 100 by the time she is set to be released from jail [File: Ahn Young-joon/Reuters]

    South Korea's top court on Thursday ordered a second retrial for disgraced former president Park Geun-hye, saying she deserved a heavier punishment after being found guilty of illegally taking money from the country's spy agency.

    Park, the country's first female president, was impeached in 2017 after huge street protests over the scandal, and already faces a separate retrial for corruption and abuse of power that could add to her 25-year jail term.

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    Thursday's ruling came after an appeals court reduced Park's sentence by one year to five years in prison for pocketing money from the National Intelligence Service.

    The Supreme Court said in a statement that the charges dropped on appeal had "misunderstood the legal principles" and ordered Park "should be found guilty".

    The penalties in the two cases apply consecutively, meaning the 67-year-old would be approaching 100 by the time of her scheduled release.

    Park's corruption scandal exposed shady links between big business and politics in South Korea, with Park and her close friend Choi Soon-sil accused of taking bribes from conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics, in exchange for preferential treatment.

    Park's left-leaning successor Moon Jae-in was swept to power by the public backlash against her and her conservative party.

    South Korean presidents have often ended up in prison after their time in power, usually once their political rivals have moved into the presidential Blue House.

    All four of South Korea's living presidents have been convicted of criminal offences, although Park's predecessor Lee Myung-bak was granted bail earlier this year.

    Another former president, Roh Moo-hyun, killed himself in 2009 after being questioned over graft allegations involving his family.

    SOURCE: AFP news agency