Shadrake vs the Court

Contempt of court, freedom of speech or defamation of the judiciary? The courts decided that the first issue is the proper one while critics of the death penalty, activists and their ilk would naturally say the latter two. There is supposedly no maximum sentence fine or jail sentence loaded with contempt of court charges. AGC wants at least 12 weeks. This is the same sentence meted out to Gopalan Nair after he taunted the courts and everyone. The former Singaporean’s case was obviously provocation and defiance compared to Shadrake but both are getting the same sentence? Anyway, the court wants to send a signal that it has little tolerance for people who come here to try and shame the judiciary and all foreigners would get 3 months at least for their cheek.

Shadrake would be sentenced next week, and we can be sure that there would be an appeal citing Shadrake’s age and health condition. Whether Shadrake’s lawyer Ravi is up to the task of cutting down jail time or fine is uncertain as he does not seem totally well recently.

AGC calls for jail of at least 12 weeks for Shadrake
Author ‘repeated and compounded offence’ in interview with British paper published last Sunday
05:55 AM Nov 10, 2010
by Leong Wee Keat

SINGAPORE – The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) yesterday called for a jail term of at least 12 weeks for British author Alan Shadrake (picture), while his lawyer made an apology offer on his behalf.

Shadrake was convicted of contempt of court last week and was due to be sentenced yesterday.

Justice Quentin Loh adjourned the session after he noted that the submissions from the AGC and defence lawyer M Ravi were “quite far apart”.

The judge added he needed to consider the points raised, including the AGC’s assertion that Shadrake, 76, had “repeated and compounded” his offence in an interview published last Sunday in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

Highlighting several passages in the article, Deputy Senior State Counsel Hema Subramaniam, who is representing the AGC, said the interview was a sign of Shadrake’s continued defiance.

In the article, Shadrake admits one minor inaccuracy in his book but insists the rest of the material is “devastatingly accurate”.

Shadrake had been convicted on 11 passages in his 219-page book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock on the grounds they were made “without any rational basis” and, therefore, did not constitute fair criticism.

Ms Subramaniam, describing Shadrake’s case as “without precedent”, called for the jail sentence.

Mr Ravi, however, argued that the fact that the authorities did not ban Shadrake’s books was “a total contradiction” of the ongoing legal proceedings and a “mockery of the intelligence” of the average Singaporean.

He also pointed out that Shadrake’s passages in the book related to a particular type of case and on matters of public interest, rather than to the Singapore legal system as a whole.

“It is not his intention to undermine the Judiciary,” said Mr Ravi.

Urging the judge to give Shadrake a warning instead of a jail term, Mr Ravi added that his client would “certainly apologise if he had offended the sensitivities of the Judiciary”.

Ms Subramaniam dismissed the apology offer as “half-hearted”, “insufficient” and “insincere”.

She added that Shadrake should have retracted the offending passages without any qualification and offered to delete them from his book.

Contempt of court is punishable by imprisonment or a fine or both, with no maximum limit set on either.

Justice Loh is expected to sentence Shadrake next Tuesday.


2 Responses

  1. The decision of the courts suggests the very thing that Shadrake is driving at in his book. No better confirmation needed than this.

  2. Shadrake’s sentencing today I think. Let’s hear what the slap on the wrist is. The circus is not over yet.

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