British author starts Singapore jail term

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A 76-year-old British writer who published a book denouncing judicial hangings in Singapore started a prison term on Wednesday for contempt.

Alan Shadrake, who wrote about the use of hanging to execute drug traffickers and murderers in the city-state, turned himself in at the High Court.

On Friday he lost his appeal against a six-week sentence, the toughest ever imposed in Singapore for contempt.

Shadrake could not afford to pay a Sg$20,000 ($16,200) fine on top of the prison term, resulting in another two weeks in jail, taking the term to eight weeks in total. He could be released earlier for good behaviour.

He was allowed to undergo a medical test before serving his sentence.

"I feel fine. I feel that Singapore has shamed itself again by jailing me," Shadrake told AFP by telephone.

"For Singapore not to allow this free expression, to jail someone for their opinions... it's bloody nonsense," added the author of "Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".

His book includes a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore's Changi Prison who, according to the author, hanged around 1,000 men and women including foreigners from 1959 until he retired in 2006.

Shadrake's book 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.

He was arrested by Singapore police in July last year while visiting the city to launch the first edition of his book, which was first published in neighbouring Malaysia.

Shadrake said previously that the second edition of his book was already on sale in Australia and was due to be launched in Britain on June 1.

© 2011 AFP

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