Singapore jails UK writer for contempt

A SINGAPORE court has sentenced a 76-year-old British author to six weeks in jail for contempt of court over a book deemed critical of the city-state’s judiciary.

Alan Shadrake had offered a qualified apology during a hearing last week but said he would not disavow his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, which triggered Singapore’s ire.

High Court Judge Quentin Loh, who had found Mr 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 (about $15,000).

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 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.

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