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U.K. Author Loses Singapore Appeal; Contempt Sentence Upheld

British author Alan Shadrake
British author Alan Shadrake. Photographer: Mohd Fyrol/AFP/Getty Images

May 27 (Bloomberg) -- British author Alan Shadrake, found guilty of contempt of court for a book that criticized Singapore’s justice system, had his six-week jail sentence upheld by an appeals court.

It was the “worst” case of contempt to come before the Singapore courts, Judge Andrew Phang said in delivering the ruling today.

Shadrake wrote the book, “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore’s Justice in the Dock,” which accused Singapore’s courts of succumbing to political influence and favoring the rich over the poor. The book contained “half-truths and selective facts; sometimes even outright falsehoods,” Singapore High Court Judge Quentin Loh said in his Nov. 3 verdict.

“I’m not sorry for myself or for writing the book at all,” Shadrake, who turns 77 on Aug. 14, said after today’s hearing.

Loh had also fined the writer S$20,000 ($16,000) and ordered him to pay S$55,000 in costs to the prosecution, who had sought a jail term of at least 12 weeks.

Shadrake said he can’t pay the fine and will serve an additional two weeks in jail instead.

“If I’m a good boy, I’ll be in remission and out in five weeks,” he said. Shadrake will begin serving the jail term June 1, the same day the second edition of his book is scheduled to go on sale in the U.K.

The three judge appeal panel found two of the 11 statements originally found to be contemptuous by Loh didn’t scandalize the judiciary.

Shadrake, who was based in Malaysia, was arrested in his hotel room in Singapore after the July release of the book.

The appeal court ruling “is a major setback for free expression in Singapore,” the group Human Rights Watch said in a statement today.

The case is Alan Shadrake v Attorney-General CA212/2010 in the Singapore Court of Appeal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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