Singapore wraps up case against British author

20th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Singapore on Wednesday wrapped up its case against a British journalist who it accused of attacking the judiciary, calling his book on the city-state's death penalty the worst form of contempt of court.

Deputy senior state counsel Hema Subramanian told the High Court the allegations that Alan Shadrake made in his book, "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock", had no precedent in their gravity.

"No clearer or more egregious example of scandalising the court can be found," Subramanian, representing the Attorney General's Chambers, said at the end of a three-day hearing.

"He's basically telling us you cannot come to court and get justice... All he has done in his book is concoct scandals and... attack the rule of law in this country," Subramanian said.

Defence lawyer M. Ravi maintained his arguments that the book's contents were fair.

He also said the prosecution was employing bullying tactics to punish his client, a freelance journalist, for writing a book critical of the Singapore judiciary in his wrapup argument.

"I am asking the prosecution not to bully this man," Ravi told the court.

Speaking to AFP after the hearing, he said: "The true test of the judiciary's mettle is whether or not they take a measured and proportionate approach to dealing with Alan's book."

High Court judge Quentin Loh is expected to issue his verdict next Tuesday.

Contempt of court is punishable by a jail term and fine.

Shadrake's book 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.

Shadrake, 75, 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.

© 2010 AFP

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