Embattled City Harvest Church Pastor Kong Hee and five other members sentenced to prison for misusing church funds have been faced with yet another obstacle, as the prosecution has officially appealed that all parties be given harsher sentences.
According to Singapore's Business Times, the prosecution filed the Petition of Appeal on Monday, arguing that the sentences imposed on the six CHC accused members are "manifestly inadequate, in all the circumstances of the case."
As reported by the Gospel Herald, after a lengthy trial, all six CHC leaders were found guilty in November of funneling more than $35.5 million in church donations to promote the singing career of Sun Ho, who is Kong's wife and fellow CHC founder.
Before sentencing, state prosecutors said it was "the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore's legal history".
For the past five years, Kong and the others accused denied any wrongdoing and dismissed reports that they controlled management company Xtron, which was handling Ho's career. Although the megachurch maintained that Ho's pop music was intended as a form of outreach to non-Christians, Kong was sentenced to eight years in prison, the longest of the six, whose sentences ranged upwards from 21 months.
In December, the six accused individuals had also filed their notices of appeal against both conviction and sentences, indicating to the court that they intend to appeal.
At the time, Kong said that he respects the court's decision, but found points that are "erroneous and warrant appeal."
"I will therefore be preparing to file an appeal against both my conviction and sentence. Earlier today, I was informed that the prosecution has also filed an appeal against the sentence imposed by the court," the pastor said in a statement.
"My lawyers will also address the prosecution's appeal at the appropriate time. I sincerely need your prayers during this process for a favorable outcome. The road ahead is long and arduous, but God's grace is sufficient for me," he added.
A separate statement on the City Harvest Church website asked members to "continue to pray earnestly for the six and their families that God will grant them wisdom, protection and grace during this challenging time."
Despite his uncertain future, Kong has maintained a positive appearance, regularly taking to social media to share photos of his family and congregation.
"It was good to be back in CHC and speaking at our weekend services for the first time in 2016. Thank God for fresh revelation for a brand-new year!" he wrote last week,
Just hours after the prosecution announced it had filed the Petition of Appeal, Kong shared another ministry update, writing, "Sun Ho and I had a wonderful time of fellowship with some church leaders and long-time members. I felt it is like the gathering of the early Christians in Acts 2, fellowshipping, praying and sharing heart together."