Couple from China discontinue appeals, will begin jail terms for obstructing COVID-19 contact tracing in Singapore
SINGAPORE: A couple from China who were sentenced to jail for obstructing COVID-19 contact tracers in Singapore have thrown in the towel after almost two years of fighting their case in court.
They discontinued their appeals on Tuesday (Jan 11) and will begin serving their jail terms in the coming months.
China national Hu Jun, 40, will begin his five-month jail term on Jan 17, while his wife Shi Sha, 38, will start her six-month imprisonment term on May 17.
Hu, an investment consultant, was found guilty in October last year of one count under the Infectious Diseases Act of deliberately withholding information from contact tracers about his whereabouts and activities.
His wife was convicted of four charges for withholding information, giving false information and failing to respond fully and truthfully to a health officer.
Hu arrived in Singapore from Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak at the time, in January 2020 to spend Chinese New Year with his family.
His wife Shi, a former police officer, was in Singapore on a long-term visit pass to accompany her daughter who was studying at an international school in Singapore.
Nine days after arriving in Singapore, Hu tested positive for COVID-19. However, when he was questioned by contact tracers, he failed to mention the full list of where he had travelled - omitting locations like hotels, a restaurant and the Chinese embassy.
Shi, who spoke to contact tracers more than her husband did as he was recuperating in hospital, was convicted of more charges. She testified that speaking to the contact tracer was like a chicken talking to a duck, saying she could almost confirm that Mandarin was not the other woman's mother tongue.
The couple hired three sets of lawyers throughout their court process, making applications to different judges to be allowed to head home to China, pending trial.
A district court judge first allowed their application in October 2020, but it was contested by the prosecutor, who successfully had the decision reversed in the High Court.
When the couple was sentenced in November last year, they indicated their intention to appeal in the High Court.
On Tuesday, they returned to the State Courts for a post-sentence hearing that was not open to the media.
Thereafter, court records showed that their appeals had been discontinued and that Hu and Shi would begin their jail terms in January and May respectively.
Accordingly, Hu was offered bail of S$30,000 and his wife S$10,000 until they surrender at the State Courts to begin their sentences.
The couple's lawyer, Mr Steven John Lam of Templars Law, told CNA that his clients made the decision last week to discontinue their appeals.
The court process has taken a mental and financial toll on them, and they wish to be reunited with their family as soon as possible, he said.
In addition, an elderly relative has taken ill, said the lawyer. The couple has been staying with friends in Singapore during the court process.