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Couple from China sentenced to jail for obstructing COVID-19 contact tracing in Singapore – CNA


In her testimony, she also said that people around the world have been reprimanding her and her husband after seeing the news, and lamented that they could not see their relatives for almost two years.

In response, the prosecutor pointed to a statement that he said “evinces collusion between the accused persons”, and states clearly that they discussed what to tell the Ministry of Health, in order to protect their privacy.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh sought five months’ jail for Hu and eight months for Shi, while defence lawyer Steven John Lam asked for a fine of S$10,000 for Hu and S$20,000 for Shi.

The prosecutor labelled the case as one with high culpability and high severity.

However, the defence said it was low culpability and low severity. This was mainly because the couple gave information to the authorities, Hu voluntarily sought treatment and they took precautions to reduce the risk of infection to others.

THE COUPLE CONTINUES TO BLAME CIRCUMSTANCES, AUTHORITIES: PROSECUTOR

In response, Mr Koh said the couple has “clearly not accepted responsibility for their actions”, continuing to “blame the circumstances and the authorities for the charges they face”.

“At no point in the written mitigation is the word remorse mentioned,” said Mr Koh. “They have also demonstrated that they are determined to be dishonest, even in the fact of conviction.”

He said the fact that Hu sought treatment and that the couple isolated themselves cannot be taken “seriously as a mitigating factor”, as the natural response when a person contracts a highly infectious and deadly disease would be to treat it.

“This is self preservation. As for self-isolation, it can be viewed in the same vein. They were trying to protect their children and … parents. This is consistent with their self-interested mentality,” said Mr Koh.

“If they were really concerned as they so claimed about others getting infected, they should have been forthright with the contact tracers when asked about their movements and activities.”

Responding to the defence’s claim that the couple has suffered “mental torture” from being separated from their family for so long, the prosecutor said this should not feature as a sentencing consideration.

“This would mean offenders who are foreigners with aged parents or children would receive favourable treatment,” he said.

There was no undue delay in the court proceedings and it was the accused persons themselves who decided to change counsels twice, said Mr Koh.

He said many in Singapore including frontline workers have sacrificed to contribute to the controlling of the pandemic, whereas Hu and Shi have shown the opposite – that they are “willing to sell the public interest cheaply for their own”.

THEY DID NOT DELIBERATELY MISLEAD OR WITHHOLD INFO: DEFENCE

Defence lawyer Mr Lam said his clients did not deliberately withhold information from or mislead the MOH officers.

They have no prior convictions, and Shi had maintained a clear record despite being in Singapore for some time before the offences.

A long jail term would serve “no purpose”, he said, adding that the couple would be blacklisted and their dreams of having their children have a good education in Singapore “would be dashed”.

“That in itself would be a deterrent to foreigners as well,” he said.

The judge meted out the sentences after questioning the prosecutor about the eight months’ jail he was seeking for Shi, highlighting that this was more than the six months’ statutory sentence provided for the offence.

The couple intends to appeal.

For each charge under the Infectious Diseases Act, Hu and Shi could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$10,000, or both.



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