2010/11/03

British author guilty of insulting Singapore judiciary

SINGAPORE, November  3, 2010 (AFP) - Singapore's High Court on Wednesday found a 75-year-old British author, Alan Shadrake, guilty of insulting the judiciary in a book he wrote on the hanging of criminals in the city-state.

Shadrake, who will be sentenced next week, faces a possible jail term, a fine or both for contempt of court.

"This is a case about someone who says among other things the judges in Singapore are not impartial... (and are) influenced by political and economic situations and biased against the weak and the poor," Justice Quentin Loh said.

Shadrake's book "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock" contains a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore's Changi Prison who, according to the author, executed around 1,000 men and women from 1959 until he retired in 2006.

It also features interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers on cases involving capital punishment.

"I think I've been given a fair hearing," Shadrake told the media after the verdict was issued.

When asked if he plans to appeal the guilty verdict, Shadrake replied he has to discuss the matter with his lawyer.

Shadrake, who is based in Malaysia, was arrested in Singapore when he travelled there to launch the book in July. He has been freed on bail but his passport has been seized.