British author jailed for contempt

UK Press Association

A British writer has been sentenced to six weeks in jail and fined 20,000 dollars (£9,540) for contempt by a court in Singapore.

The High Court delivered the verdict against Alan Shadrake, 76, in connection with his book Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice In The Dock, which was deemed to have insulted the Singaporean judiciary.

The attorney-general’s office, which took Shadrake to court, claimed that statements in the book impugned the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary.

Shadrake had offered a qualified apology during a hearing last week but said he would not disavow his book.

High Court Judge Quentin Loh, who found Shadrake guilty of contempt of court earlier this month, ordered the author to spend six weeks in jail and pay a fine of 20,000 Singapore dollars.

The prosecution, representing the attorney-general’s office, had demanded a sentence of 12 weeks. 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 case has once again highlighted complaints by critics who claim Singapore uses criminal defamation laws to silence them. But the government said any statement which damaged the reputations of its leaders would 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”.

It is not clear if the writer, who was arrested on July 18 and freed on bail two days later, will appeal against his sentence. A criminal defamation investigation against him is still pending.

Shadrake did not say anything after the sentence was announced, but, going in to the hearing, he said: “I will never apologise for my book. If they put me in jail, they put me in jail.”

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