Their conviction remains, but Kong Hee’s sentence is reduced from eight years to three years and six months while sentences for others range from seven months to three years and four months.
This morning at the High Court, the Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin stated that the appeal judges were not of the view that there was a sinister and malicious attempt by the six—Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, John Lam, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan—to use the church’s building funds for their own purposes; rather, it accepted that the six believed they were acting in the best interest of the church. The majority of the High Court further stated that the present case should not be viewed as a sinister and malicious attempt on the appellants’ part to strip the church of funds for their own purposes.
While the High Court upheld the guilty verdict for the six appellants, it reduced their sentences substantially after taking into consideration significant mitigating factors such as the absence of any personal gain.
When the verdict was first announced by Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon in Nov 2015, the prosecution had appealed for the sentences to be extended to five to 12 years each. All six appellants had appealed against the guilty conviction.
The judgment also noted that even after the full facts about the funding of the Crossover Project had been brought to light, a large percentage of City Harvest’s congregation continued to support it as a legitimate church project. The fault of the appellants, the judges found, lay in adopting the wrong means.
The sentences were reduced to between seven months to three years and six months, from the State Courts’ sentencing of between 21 months to eight years.
CHC members who attended the hearing expressed that they appreciated the court’s reduction of the sentence. Media producer Eric Wong, 38, added, “I hope that our members will stand together and support the church. We’ll continue to love God and love people.”
Consultant Lester Chee, 28, says, “I’m grateful that the High Court deliberated and decided on a reduced sentence. We prayed for the best and I’m thankful that it’s still a win for us. God is still good and He has heard our prayers. Right now the most important thing is to stay united and trust in God.”
Real estate agent Gan Sok Hoon, 41, echoed Chee’s sentiments. “I believe in the church and our leaders. No matter what the outcome is, we need to continue to stay united and stand strong as a church. We’ve got to continue to believe and to do God’s work.”
The High Court also approved the request to defer the start date of the sentences by two weeks for Kong Hee, John Lam, Tan Ye Peng and Serina Wee.
Sharon Tan’s lawyer requested for a two-month deferment for his client to help manage her family’s relocation plans.
Chew Eng Han requested for two weeks deferment to consider if he wanted to pursue further appeals.
REDUCED SENTENCES FOR THE SIX
– Kong Hee: from 8 years to 3 years and 6 months.
– John Lam: from 3 years to 1 year and 6 months.
– Tan Ye Peng: from 5 years 6 months to 3 years and 2 months.
– Serina Wee: from 5 years to two years and six months.
– Chew Eng Han: from 6 years to 3 years and 4 months.
– Sharon Tan: from 21 months to 7 months.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：高庭认为六人“没有恶意或阴谋”；减轻判刑