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Author who dared criticize Singapore's death penalty appeals sentence

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Wong Maye-E/AP

(Read caption) British author Alan Shadrake speaks to the Associated Press before his court hearing on Friday, July 30, 2010 in Singapore. Shadrake vows to fight charges in Singapore related to his book on the city-state's death penalty policy, even if it lands him in jail.

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Singapore fiercely guards its reputation for squeaky-clean governance. Anyone suggesting that the rich city-state’s judiciary has serious flaws can expect a stern rebuttal – or much worse.

In November, Alan Shadrake was found guilty of contempt of court over his book, "Once A Jolly Hangman," which skewers Singapore’s brand of capital punishment. He was fined 20,000 Singapore dollars and sentenced to six weeks in jail. Human rights groups complained that the verdict was harsh and unnecessary.

On Monday Mr. Shadrake was back in court, this time to appeal the verdict. He vows that he will fight his case and doesn’t care if he ends up back in a Singaporean jail.

The British author has become an unlikely symbol of resistance to Singapore’s thin-skinned elite who frequently sue their opponents for what would be considered run-of-the-mill political speech in other democracies. Although the Internet has chipped away at some of the curbs on free speech, Singaporeans remain highly circumspect in public on topics deemed sensitive by authorities.


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