November 4, 2010

Singapore convicts British author Shadrake


Alan Shadrake

Alan Shadrake

MobyLives has been covering the trial of British author and journalist, Alan Shadrake, (here, here and here) who was arrested for “insulting the Singapore judiciary” in a book he wrote about the death penalty. Today, according to a BBC wire story, he was found guilty.

The book, entitled Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock questioned the way the death penalty was used in Singapore, and featured interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers, including a particularly long interview with Darshan Singh, the long-time chief executioner at Singapore’s notorious Changi Prison.

According to the BBC, the 75-year-old Shadrake, who was arrested in July, “will be sentenced for contempt next week ….”

The BBC report quotes Justice Quentin Loh as saying Shadrake had written a “‘selective and dissembling account’ of half-truths and falsehoods which could cause the unwary reader to doubt Singapore’s rule of law.”

Shadrake told the media after the verdict, “I think I’ve been given a fair hearing,” And at the start of his trial, he had told the BBC he would never apologise: “I will not grovel to them, I will carry on this fight.”

Meanwhile, Shadrake is also “being investigated by the police for criminal defamation; his passport is being held by the police,” according to the BBC report.

Human rights groups have called loudly for Shadrake’s release. Donna Guest, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific Deputy Director, told the BBC, “The Singapore government should release Shadrake at once….. Singapore should get rid of both its criminal defamation laws and the death penalty.”

The length of Shadrake’s sentence has not yet been determined.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.