Singapore jails British writer for contempt

A Singapore court sentenced a 76-year-old British author to six weeks in jail and a fine of USD 15,400 for contempt of court over his book deemed critical of the city-state`s judiciary.

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2010, 13:48 PM IST

Singapore: A Singapore court on Tuesday
sentenced a 76-year-old British author to six weeks in jail
and a fine of USD 15,400 for contempt of court over his book
deemed critical of the city-state`s judiciary.

Alan Shadrake had offered to apologise for offending
the sensitivities of the judiciary, but said he would never
apologise for his book, "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore
Justice in the Dock," which triggered Singapore`s ire.

High Court Judge Quentin Loh, who had found Shadrake
guilty of contempt of court earlier this month, ordered the
author to spend six weeks in jail and pay a fine of S$20,000
(USD 15,400).

The prosecution, representing the attorney-general`s
office, had demanded a sentence of 12 weeks.

"Had Mr Shadrake made amends I would have dealt with
him very differently," Loh said, adding that the writer showed
"a reckless disregard for the truth" and "a complete lack of
remorse."

Shadrake did not say anything after the sentence was
announced, but going in he said "I will never apologise for my
book."

"If they put me in jail, they put me in jail,"
Shadrake, wearing a jacket and an open collar shirt, told The
Associated Press.

Under Singaporean law, the crime is punishable by a
fine and jail term, but the judge has the discretion to
determine the exact penalty.

The attorney-general`s office alleges that statements
in the book impugn the impartiality, integrity and
independence of the judiciary.

The case has once again highlighted complaints by
critics who claim Singapore uses criminal defamation laws to
silence critics.

But the government says any statement that damages the
reputations of its leaders will hinder their ability to rule
effectively.

Prosecution lawyer Hema Subramaniam said Shadrake had
shown "complete lack of good faith in making these allegations
against the judiciary."

Shadrake was arrested July 18 and freed on bail two
days later.

It is not clear if he will appeal his sentence. A
criminal defamation investigation against him is still
pending.

Singapore`s leaders have sued journalists and
political opponents several times in past years for
defamation.

The government says restrictions on speech and
assembly are necessary to preserve economic prosperity and
racial and religious harmony in this multiethnic city-state of
5 million people.

PTI