British author freed from Singapore jail: witness

9th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

British author Alan Shadrake was freed Saturday from a Singapore prison after more than a month in jail for contempt of court related to his book on the death penalty, an AFP photographer saw.

Shadrake was whisked away from Changi prison in a van marked "Immigration and Checkpoints Authority," the photographer said.

It was believed to be heading for the airport where Shadrake was expected to be deported later Saturday to London, according to his lawyer M. Ravi.

"He is being deported by the immigration authorities," Ravi told AFP.

Shadrake went to jail on June 1 after losing his appeal against a six-week jail sentence which was the toughest ever imposed in Singapore for contempt of court.

The 76-year-old had been ordered to serve an extra two weeks behind bars as he could not afford the Sg$20,000 ($16,000) fine that accompanied his sentence, but Ravi said his client was released early on account of good behaviour.

Lance Lattig, Amnesty International's researcher on Southeast Asia, said Singapore should have dropped all charges against Shadrake.

"They shouldn't have prosecuted him in the first place," said Lattig.

Shadrake's book titled "Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock" includes a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Changi Prison.

According to Shadrake's book, Singh hanged around 1,000 men and women including foreigners from 1959 until he retired in 2006.

His book also features interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers, and alleges that some cases involving foreigners may have been influenced by diplomatic and trade considerations.

© 2011 AFP

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