UK author Shadrake jailed for six weeks in Singapore

Alan Shadrake in Singapore (20 Oct2010) Shadrake now faces a second trial on defamation charges

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A Singapore court has sentenced the UK author Alan Shadrake to six weeks in prison for insulting the judiciary in a book he wrote about the death penalty.

The 76-year-old was found guilty last week, and faces a further trial on defamation charges.

He was also ordered to pay a S$20,000 (£9,585; $15,400) fine.

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.

Prosecution lawyers had sought a prison term of 12 weeks.

Shadrake offered an apology, which High Court Judge Quentin Loh called "nothing more than a tactical ploy in court to obtain a reduced sentence".

Shadrake's lawyer, M Ravi, said an appeal was unlikely to succeed.

He said his client was in ill health and regretted that he had received no support from the British public.

Mr Ravi added that Shadrake did not have any money and the fine could not be paid.

Judge Loh said that Shadrake would have to serve an additional two weeks in prison if he failed to pay the fine.

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

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 last week.

US-based Human Rights Watch and other rights groups had urged Singapore to exonerate the author.

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

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