Prosecutors demanded a 2 1/2-year prison term for a close aide to ousted former President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday on charges of leaking presidential documents to a friend of Park accused of tampering with state affairs and extorting money from conglomerates.
Jeong Ho-seong, one of the three longest-serving aides to Park, was indicted in November last year for providing, at Park's instruction, at least 47 confidential documents, such as yet-unannounced presidential speeches, to Choi Soon-sil, the central figure in the massive corruption scandal that led to Park's ousting.
Prosecutors argued that Jeong's leaking of the documents "rocked public trust in the administration of state affairs," as it enabled Choi to meddle with state affairs and use presidential documents for private interests.
Jeong has admitted to handing presidential documents over to Choi, arguing that he was just trying to serve Park well. He also sought to defend Park, saying she had him given those documents to Choi in an effort to better handle state affairs.
"It's heartbreaking to think that there is no one as tragic as President Park Geun-hye in our society," Jeong said in his final statement. "I feel responsibility for failing to serve the president better."
Jeong said he acknowledges all the charges against him but said he didn't believe it was against the law for Park to seek opinions from an acquaintance. Park has claimed she gave presidential documents to Choi to ask what she thought about them.
"It is truly deplorable that I ended up in a situation like this, as my hard work for the president was entangled with Choi's acts," he said.
The court said it will hold a sentencing hearing for Jeong on Nov. 15.
Jeong and two others -- Lee Jae-man and Ahn Bong-geun -- were considered so close to Park that they were dubbed in the media a "doorknob trio," a figure of speech implying they were holding the knob of the door to Park and that everything must pass through them to reach her.