Two of ex-leader Park’s ‘doorknob trio’ get prison terms for taking NIS money

SEOUL, A Seoul court on Thursday handed down prison terms of 18 months to 2 1/2 years for two of the closest aides to former President Park Geun-hye and suspended the sentence for another on charges they took illicit funds from the spy agency and delivered them to Park.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Lee Jae-man, former presidential secretary for general affairs, to 18 months in prison and Ahn Bong-geun, Park's former secretary for public relations, to 2 1/2 years.

Jeong Ho-seong, another ex-presidential secretary, was sentenced to 10 months, suspended for two years.

The three were indicted for playing roles in Park's taking of between 50 million won (US$46,000) and 200 million won every month from May 2013 to July 2016 -- a total of 3.5 billion won -- from the National Intelligence Service.

Prosecutors demanded they be imprisoned for four to five years.

The court ordered Ahn to pay a 27 million-won fine for spending part of the money for personal use.

But the court ruled that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) fund they took cannot be seen as bribes, but a misappropriation of state funds by the NIS provided to the ex-president.

The three were considered so close to Park that they were dubbed in the media the "doorknob trio," a figure of speech implying they were holding the knob of the door leading to Park and that everything had to pass through them to reach her.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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