British author Alan Shadrake was convicted of contempt of court for his book challenging the integrity and independence of Singapore’s judiciary.
High Court Judge Quentin Loh announced his decision today and reserved sentencing until Nov. 9, saying that the 75-year-old had a “final opportunity to make amends.”
Shadrake, who had previously refused to apologize, said after the ruling that he would “work out how to do this and satisfy the court.” The author of “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice in the Dock” accused the city state’s courts of dispensing “unequal justice” and bowing to political and economic pressures, the prosecution had said.
Contempt of court carries a jail sentence, a fine, or both. No maximum penalty has been specified under Singapore’s constitution, according to the attorney general’s office.
“This is an especially pernicious case of grave and aggravated contempt” and “cannot possibly come within any reasonable notion of fair criticism,” the attorney general’s office said during the three-day trial last month.
Shadrake’s lawyer M. Ravi has said that the writer had no intention of scandalizing Singapore’s courts and called the judiciary “hypersensitive.”
A Wall Street Journal editor was fined S$10,000 ($7,300) last year for the publication of three articles that the city-state’s government said showed contempt of its judiciary. In another contempt of court lawsuit, three activists were sentenced to between seven and 15 days in prison for wearing t-shirts with pictures of a kangaroo dressed as a judge.
Shadrake’s book isn’t banned in Singapore, according to the Media Development Authority. Retailers and distributors will have to seek legal advice on whether they can sell or distribute the publication, the regulator said.
The author is also being investigated for criminal defamation, Singapore authorities have said.
The case is Attorney-General vs Alan Shadrake OS720/2010 in the Singapore High Court.