City Harvest trial: Kong Hee and other church leaders file notices of appeal

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and five other church leaders filed notices of appeal on Wednesday (Dec 2).
City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and five other church leaders filed notices of appeal on Wednesday (Dec 2).PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and five other church leaders filed notices of appeal at the State Courts on Wednesday (Dec 2).

All six - Kong, 51; former board member Chew Eng Han, 55; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43; former finance managers Serina Wee, 38, and Sharon Tan, 40; and former finance committee member John Lam, 47 - are appealing against both their conviction and sentence.

On Nov 20, the six were given jail sentences ranging from eight years to 21 months, after they were found guilty and convicted of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in October.

First to arrive at around 2pm was Kong, who received the heaviest sentence of eight years.

Chew, who faces six years in prison, told The Straits Times as he arrived: "I've decided to appeal since the day of the verdict and nothing has changed. My position still stands."

When asked for her thoughts, Wee, who was handed a five-year jail term, said: "We're just here to process the appeals."

Lam said: "Prosecution has filed for appeal so it's a logical move to appeal both the sentence and conviction. It's an easier decision to make (after the prosecution appealed)."

The prosecution's appeal was also "one of the considerations" in his decision to appeal, Tan Ye Peng said.

When asked about her reasons for appealing and whether the prosecution's appeal was a factor, Sharon Tan's lawyer Paul Seah said: "It all makes up part of the decisions and there are different factors."

Last Friday, the prosecution filed an appeal against the sentences for the six convicted leaders, noting that they were "manifestly inadequate". The prosecution had earlier asked for much harsher sentences ranging from five to 12 years.

All six are now out on bail. The bail amount for each remains the same, except for Kong. His bail amount will go up by $500,000 to $1.5 million, as he will be travelling.

The State Courts will serve court record of proceedings to all parties on Jan 4, after which they have 14 days to file a petition of appeal, said Chew.