UK author Shadrake convicted of contempt in Singapore

Alan Shadrake, Singapore 3 Nov 2010 Alan Shadrake has been found guilty of contempt in a Singapore court

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A Singapore court has found the UK author Alan Shadrake guilty of insulting the Singapore judiciary in a book he wrote about the death penalty.

The 75-year-old will be sentenced for contempt next week; he also faces trial on defamation charges.

In his book, "Once a Jolly Hangman - Singapore Justice in the Dock", he criticised how the death penalty is used, alleging a lack of impartiality.

On his conviction, he said he felt he had received a fair trial.

The Malaysia-based Shadrake was arrested in July when he visited Singapore to launch his book.

Impartiality

"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.

Justice Loh said Shadrake had written a "selective and dissembling account" of half-truths and falsehoods which could cause the unwary reader to doubt Singapore's rule of law.

The book contains interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers, as well as a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore's Changi Prison.

It claims he executed around 1,000 men and women from 1959 until he retired in 2006.

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

At the start of his trial, he had told the BBC he would never apologise: "I will not grovel to them, I will carry on this fight."

Separately, Shadrake is being investigated by the police for criminal defamation; his passport is being held by the police.

The BBC's Vaudine England says few critics of Singapore manage to avoid censure in the city-state's courts.

News organisations covering Singapore critically have paid large fines or had their circulation in Singapore restricted.

Human rights groups say the Singaporean authorities too often resort to the courts to silence their critics.

But the government insists it has a right to quash inaccuracies, our correspondent says.

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