British author jailed for book on Singapore hangings
A Singapore court jailed a 75-year-old British author for six weeks on Tuesday for publishing a book critical of executions in the city-state.
Alan Shadrake was handed the prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 Singapore dollars (15,000 US) for contempt of court over the book, which features an interview with a former chief executioner.
High Court Judge Quentin Loh dismissed a last-minute apology by Shadrake as "nothing more than a tactical ploy in court to obtain a reduced sentence" and ruled that the freelance journalist will have to serve two extra weeks in prison if he fails to pay the fine.
"A fine should be imposed to prevent Mr Shadrake from profiting from his contempt (of court)," the judge said.
The ruling said the sentence was the stiffest ever imposed for contempt of court in Singapore. The previous longest jail term was 15 days.
Shadrake, who lives in Malaysia and Britain, was arrested by Singapore police in July after launching the book, "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".
It includes 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.
In a November 3 ruling that found Shadrake guilty, the judge said, "Mr Shadrake's technique is to make or insinuate his claims against a dissembling and selective background of truths and half-truths, and sometimes outright falsehoods.
"A casual and unwary reader, who does not subject the book to detailed scrutiny, might well believe his claims... and in so doing would have lost confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore."
© 2010 AFP