SINGAPORE — A High Court judge on Monday (19 October) barred a couple facing COVID-19 related charges from leaving Singapore for China in the midst of their trial, overturning an earlier ruling by the State Courts.
Chinese nationals Hu Jun, 39, and Shi Sha, 37, had claimed trial to withholding information from public health officials about their whereabouts after Hu tested positive for COVID-19 early this year.
Justice Vincent Hoong said that he allowed the prosecution’s motion to prevent the couple from leaving Singapore. This means that the couple’s bail will return to its original amount of $10,000.
The couple appeared in the State Courts on 9 October to apply to return to China before the continuation of their trial slated for 25 to 28 January next year. District Judge Ng Peng Hong had granted the application but increased the bail for both by $80,000 to $90,000, and also imposed several conditions on them.
While DJ Ng gave permission for Hu and Shi to return to Singapore by 20 January 2021, the prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh, applied for the decision to be reviewed by the High Court.
Citing the same reasons given previously by the prosecution at the State Courts, DPP Koh said on Monday that Hu and Shi were flight risks with no ties, home, or job in Singapore and that the bailors could not ensure the couple’s return once they were in a different jurisdiction. He added that there was no extradition treaty between China and Singapore.
Arguing against the prosecution, the couple’s lawyer Dhanwant Singh said the offences that the couple were facing were bailable, and that Hu had applied to leave Singapore as his livelihood was adversely affected while he remained here.
He enclosed a document from Hu’s employer given to him when he visited Singapore earlier this year. The document certified that Hu was an employee of the company earning 500,000 yuan ($101,302.35) annually.
It added that Hu was a good performer with no criminal record during his time of service, and that Hu agreed to abide by local laws and will bear the responsibility for his actions while here.
Shi and Hu were the first to be charged under the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) earlier this year after it was revealed that they may have lied about their whereabouts between 22 and 29 January.
Hu had contracted COVID-19 and tested positive for the virus on 31 January. The couple claimed trial to their charges on 17 August and were due to resume their trial from 25 to 28 January next year.
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