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Couple accused of withholding info from health officers no longer allowed to return to China

SINGAPORE — A couple accused of withholding information from health officers after one of them contracted Covid-19 can no longer return to China before the next tranche of their trial in January.

Wuhan natives Shi Sha and Hu Jun were earlier granted permission by a District Court to return to China on condition of a much higher bail, but the High Court overturned this decision.

Wuhan natives Shi Sha and Hu Jun were earlier granted permission by a District Court to return to China on condition of a much higher bail, but the High Court overturned this decision.

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SINGAPORE — A couple accused of withholding information from health officers after one of them contracted Covid-19 can no longer return to China before the next tranche of their trial in January. 

Earlier this month, a district judge granted Wuhan native Hu Jun, 39, and his wife Shi Sha, 37, permission to leave Singapore from Oct 9 to Jan 20 if they met certain terms, including posting an additional bail of S$80,000 and remaining contactable during their travel.

But High Court Judge Vincent Hoong overturned the decision on Monday (Oct 19) after Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Timotheus Koh argued that there would be “glaring practical difficulties” in ensuring their return from China. 

“If they are allowed to leave, they are out of reach in another jurisdiction, a jurisdiction where there is no extradition treaty,” the DPP had said, urging the court to reinstate their former bail of S$10,000 with a condition that they remain in Singapore until their case concludes.

Hu, who tested positive for the virus on Jan 31, faces one charge of hindering a health officer by deliberately withholding information on his whereabouts and activities. 

Shi faces four charges under the Infectious Diseases Act for withholding information, giving false information and failing to respond fully and truthfully to a health officer.

Their lawyer Dhanwant Singh had earlier argued that Hu, the family’s sole breadwinner, is a high-end financial adviser whose business requires his physical presence in China.

Mr Singh said Hu’s livelihood was at stake, and that Shi had been separated from their two children, aged four and 10, for many months. The children and the couple’s parents are in China.

The DPP, however, argued on Monday that Hu did not provide any evidence to substantiate the claim that his work cannot be conducted remotely or why his livelihood is in danger if he does not return to China. 

He also noted that Shi’s “sole reason” for leaving is to see her family.

“There is no evidence that the alternative care arrangements, which must have been ongoing for the past months since they were in Singapore, cannot continue.”

DPP Koh also noted the couple’s lack of ties to Singapore, pointing out that they live in rented premises and do not have any relatives here. Shi had been in Singapore since last January as their elder daughter was schooling here, while Hu only entered Singapore on Jan 22 as he was visiting his family.

“All we have is essentially the respondents’ bare claim that they will eventually return for their court proceedings,” he said. 

Justice Hoong did not give any remarks to support his decision on Monday.

Mr Singh will next apply to the State Courts to request for an earlier set of trial dates. The next tranche of the trial is set to be held between Jan 25 and 28.  

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus jurisdiction Chinese

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