SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A British author will spend up to eight weeks in a Singapore jail after the Court of Appeal on Friday upheld his conviction for contempt of court.
Singapore’s High Court in November sentenced Alan Shadrake, 76, to six weeks’ jail and a fine of S$20,000 ($16,090) for scandalizing the judiciary with comments in his book about the city-state’s use of the death penalty.
“I cannot pay the fine so I will have to do another two weeks,” Shadrake told Reuters after the court dismissed his appeal against the conviction.
He added that he was not surprised by the court’s decision and “would carry on the campaign” against the death penalty.
Shadrake had been free on bail pending the appeal and starts his jail sentence on June 1, the same day the second edition of his book, “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock,” appears in British bookstores.
“If I’m well behaved, I will get remission of a third and that will be reduced to five weeks,” added Shadrake, who carried a poster with the words “Stop the Death Penalty” as he entered the courthouse.
Wealthy Singapore, an island-nation of 5.1 million people, imposes the death penalty for crimes such as murder and has a mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking. It boasts of one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
The Southeast Asian city-state has, however, been criticized for its harsh laws and use of lawsuits against some of its critics. Authorities say such lawsuits are necessary to protect the reputation of government leaders.
“The prosecution of Alan Shadrake for doing nothing more than calling for legal reform is a devastating blow to free speech in Singapore,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
($1 = 1.243 Singapore Dollars)
Reporting by Harry Suhartono; Editing by Nick Macfie