City Harvest accused have case to answer
CITY Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others will take the stand to defend themselves against allegations that they misused the church's funds and falsified its accounts.
The trial against them will continue on July 14 with the defence taking its turn, after the Presiding Judge of the State Courts, See Kee Oon, yesterday rejected their lawyers' attempt to have the case thrown out.
When the prosecution wrapped up its case last month, the lawyers claimed it had not done enough to even merit a defence.
They said the prosecution had failed to show sufficient evidence for each of the charges against their clients.
Rejecting this, Presiding Judge See said: "The evidence as it stands is sufficient to support each and every element of the various charges preferred against the six accused persons.
"In the result, I find that the six accused have a case to answer on their charges, and I call for their defence accordingly."
Kong and the others are alleged to have misused about $50 million of church funds to bankroll Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun's pop music career and to cover this up.
Their lawyers had said Ms Ho's music was part of a church "Crossover Project" to evangelise. The defence had argued that "church funds were used for church purposes", so the accused could not have been dishonest.
Said Presiding Judge See: "I do not find this argument persuasive. Even if this is indeed a case of 'church funds for church purposes', dishonesty could be established if the evidence shows the accused persons knew they were not legally entitled to use (the church's) money in the way they did."