Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 06:12
AsiaViews, Edition: 31/VII/November2010
Category: LEGAL WATCH
SINGAPORE - British author and journalist Alan Shadrake (picture) has been found guilty of contempt of court for his book on the death penalty here.
But Justice Quentin Loh, who presided over the three-day hearing last month, reiterated yesterday in his judgement that the case was not about Shadrake's opposition to the death penalty.
Rather, it was about what the British author said in his book that undermined the integrity of Singapore's judicial system.
Delivering his judgment to a packed courtroom yesterday, Justice Loh made it clear that Shadrake, 76, was entitled to air his views in public and that the courts were duty-bound to protect that right.
The judge, however, took issue with 11 of 14 passages in Shadrake's 219-page book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock as they were made "without any rational basis" and, therefore, did not constitute fair criticism.
"Mr Shadrake's technique is to make or insinuate his claims against a dissembling and selective background of truths and half-truths and selective facts; sometimes even outright falsehoods," Justice Loh said.
In doing so, the judge added, Shadrake implied that the Judiciary here "is not impartial, is not independent, it succumbs to or is influenced by political and economic considerations and its decisions are biased and against the weak, the poor or less educated".
Justice Loh noted that, with almost 6,000 copies of the book sold to date, "there is certainly much more than a remote possibility that ... a not insignificant number of members of the public would believe Mr Shadrake's claims and, in so doing, would have lost confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore".
Shadrake, who faces a possible jail term, a fine or both, will be sentenced on Tuesday. Until then, the judge said, Shadrake could "consider whether he wishes to make amends for or in any way mitigate his contempt in scandalising the Singapore Judiciary".
Shadrake told reporters outside the court that he was given a "fair hearing". He declined to comment further, adding: "I usually put my foot in it by talking out of turn, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I'm now going to say the right thing at the right time."
Shadrake is also being investigated by the police for criminal defamation, an offence which carries a maximum two-year jail term and a fine. His passport is being held by the police.
By: Zul Othman, additional reporting by Hoe Yeen Nie
Today 04 November 2010
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 December 2010 06:12 )