Recently we recorded Channel NewsAsia reporting the following (emphasis ours):
“[...] In his oral grounds, the judge accepted that there was a plan to move
money from the church’s Building Fund to Xtron Productions and glassware firm
Firna (or PT The First National Glassware), for the purpose of funding Ms
Ho’s singing career.
The court accepted that there is evidence to show that the monies were moved
from the church to the various firms to generate a false appearance that the
church’s investments were redeemed.
The judge said the six had been dishonest in the use of the money. [...]” [Source]
The last sentence will be the one that keeps Phil Pringle of the C3 Movement et al awake at night: the judge has come right out and stated that the defendants have been dishonest. His judgement re. the “no case to answer” appeal has taken the case exactly where we expected it might – it is now well and truly into “reversal of the onus of proof” territory, and it’s hard to see any of the accused wriggling out of their predicaments. (In addition, if anyone was going to get off due to connections / bribery / corruption of some form or another, this would have been the most likely juncture for it to happen – it now appears that the miscreants are strapped in for the ride, which should be all downhill for them from here).
Now TodayOnline reports,
Judge rejects bid to clear CHC leaders of charges
SINGAPORE — The bid by the City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders facing criminal charges to walk away without mounting a defence has failed, after the courts rejected their contention that prosecutors had not done enough to make a case against them.
Sufficient evidence has been adduced to support every element of the charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts against the six, presiding judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon ruled yesterday.
“At the close of the prosecution’s case, there is no need for the court to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. It suffices that a court could reasonably convict on the evidence adduced by the prosecution,” he said.
With Mr See’s decision, the trial will stretch beyond the one-year mark and all six accused — church co-founder Kong Hee, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, John Lam, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan — have indicated they will take the witness stand when hearing resumes, likely in July. Chew, the church’s former investment manager who has since left, added through his lawyer that he intends to call witnesses.
The six had argued to be cleared of their charges without having to enter a defence, contending that the prosecution’s case was “piecemeal” and a “cut-and-paste” job. In rebuttal, prosecutors had asserted that the dots in its case against the church leaders connected in a natural, coherent and powerful manner.
Yesterday, Mr See addressed the points of contention between the defence and prosecution in detail. “Some dots are smaller; some are larger. When attempting to connect them, there may be clusters, trails and other patterns, some less granular and some more clearly discernible. The focus of my enquiry is whether a reasonably coherent picture has emerged thus far in support of all the ingredients of the charges,” the judge said.
Referring to a defence lawyer’s argument that the prosecution’s case has been made up of “emails, emails, emails stitched together”, Mr See said: “I am conscious that a reasonable inference is one that coheres with the totality of the documentary and oral evidence, and not merely with the email itself. I also bear in mind that a single email can generate multiple conflicting reasonable inferences, some favourable and others unfavourable to the prosecution.”
On the prosecution’s charge that the accused engaged in various conspiracies, the judge noted that evidence is “largely documentary rather than oral” and that the involvement of some of the accused is less obvious than that of others. But there is, nonetheless, evidence to support the prosecution’s contention, he said.
On the element of misappropriation, which must be fulfilled for criminal breach of trust, the judge said there is evidence to show that sham, or false, investments took place.
“I should add that, even if one does not use the word ‘sham’, the evidence suggests the so-called investments were not genuine investments, but were merely disguises for something else,” he added.
Source: Judge rejects bid to clear CHC leaders of charges, TodayOnline, http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/judge-rejects-bid-clear-chc-leaders-charges?singlepage=true, PUBLISHED: MAY 6, 4:13 AM, UPDATED: MAY 6, 4:15 AM. (Accessed 06/05/2014.)
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