Seoul - South Korea's disgraced former president Park Geun-hye was found guilty of abuse of power, bribery and coercion by a Seoul court on Friday.
"The accused is guilty of abuse of power," said Judge Kim Se-yoon, ruling that Park had forced companies to donate a total of 77.4 billion won ($72 million) to two foundations controlled by her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil.
Park's sentencing will follow the verdicts on the remaining charges she faces. Prosecutors have demanded a 30-year prison term.
Park has been held at a detention centre near Seoul since her arrest in March 2017, but she refused to attend Friday's court session, citing sickness. Park was removed from office early last year following months of massive rallies that saw millions take to the nation's streets calling for her ouster.
Once seen as the darling of South Korean conservatives, she was dubbed "Queen of Elections" by local media for her track record of leading her party to victory in tight races and still has a small group of fierce supporters who regularly stage rallies calling for her release.
Park maintains that she's a victim of "political revenge" and has been refusing to attend court sessions since October.
Park has previously maintained her innocence.
AFP and AP